If you think bladder leaks are only a problem for older adults, think again. I, for one, had my first memorable bladder leak in high school. And memorable it was; I was mortified at the thought that someone might have noticed and I slinked off to the bathroom, clenching my legs together as I went.
But here’s what I’ve learned since: bladder leaks (aka incontinence) are incredibly common for women of all ages. Nearly half of women in midlife experience bladder leaks and it just gets more common with age. So, we really have nothing to be embarrassed about.
But don’t misunderstand me. Just because it’s time to abolish the stigma and embarrassment around bladder leaks doesn’t mean we have to accept them as inevitable. There are plenty of things you can do to tell your bladder who’s boss. Bladder leaks shouldn’t get in the way of you living your best life.
Do I think that Lily Bird pads can be a part of the solution? Of course! That’s why I’m offering you a 10-pad trial for just $1.99.
But, there are other things that you can do to feel confident and free, too. Here are a few of my favorites.
The Best Advice? Pee at Least Twice
No, this doesn’t mean running to the bathroom every chance you get. (That’s actually a bad idea)!
But have you ever experienced a bladder leak when you just went to the bathroom? If so, it could be that your bladder isn’t completely empty — or that some urine is stuck in your urethra. In that case, there’s a technique called double voiding that just might do the trick.
Here’s how to do it. After you pee, either stay on the toilet or stand up and walk around for a minute – about the same amount of time that it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. Then, try again.
If those droplets need a bit of coaxing to come out, you can try massaging your lower stomach or inner thighs while sitting on the toilet, tugging on your public hair, running water, or tapping on your bladder.
It’s Always Good to Have a Plan B
I’m a planner, which means I always like to have a backup plan. And a high-quality absorbent product designed specifically for bladder leaks is exactly that. Because sometimes, even when Kegeling and furiously crossing your legs during a sneeze, it just isn’t enough. And menstrual pads definitely don’t cut it. (You wouldn’t use a fork to eat soup, would you?).
Plus, contrary to popular opinion, bladder leak products don’t have to make you feel like you belong in a nursing home. Yes, there are a lot of terrible products out there that imply we are all decrepit centenarians instead of midlife women living our best lives.
That’s why I started Lily Bird. Because you aren’t old, broken, or alone and you don’t have to buy products that say that you are. At Lily Bird we like to squash stigmas about the female body, hand out 10-pad trials for only $1.99, and help our customers skip the store by delivering discreetly to their homes.
You’re the Boss: Get Your Bladder on Board with Your Schedule
Are your bladder urges the ruler of your schedule? This is so inconvenient and can seriously cramp your style. If you’re ready to tell your bladder who’s boss, it’s time to try bladder training.
Bladder training is a technique that works wonders for both putting your bladder on a predictable schedule and also increasing the length of time in between each pit stop. All you need is a little organization and a clock.
Skip the Just-in-Case Peeing
My mom is the best. And she has the best advice — with one tiny exception. As a kid, whining that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom, she would tell me to “just go try.” (I did, though not without an eye roll).
But it turns out that peeing when you don’t have to can break down the brain-bladder communication. Your bladder starts to think that it’s full when it really isn’t. (And no, there’s no such thing as a “small bladder”). So, stop the just-because-I’m-near-the-bathroom peeing.
Re-think Your Coffee, Wine, and Chocolate Habits
I know. Giving up coffee, wine, or chocolate is a non-starter for most of you. But before all of you click off this page, hear me out. What you eat and drink goes through your bladder and some of those things can be pretty irritating — alcohol, spicy food, and caffeine are big ones — which can make bladder leaks worse.
The full list of potential bladder irritants is long, but the good news is that not everyone is irritated by everything. So listen to your body and cut out your triggers (or don’t, but know better what to expect).
A bladder diary helps you figure out which foods and drinks bother your bladder. With a bladder diary, you’ll keep track of everything you eat and drink (and when) for several days. You’ll also keep track of any urges, leaks, and trips to the bathroom.
Once you (and your doctor) look at all the information together you may find that that morning orange juice or your Szechuan chicken lunch habit are the primary culprits to blame. And once you know what irritates you, you don’t have to cut everything out. But you can selectively avoid those foods or drinks if you’re in a situation where you don’t want to be running for the restroom.
Kegels, Kegels, & More Kegels
Kegels can do more than just make sex better. When done properly, they can strengthen your pelvic floor and improve bladder leaks.
The key phrase here is: “when done properly.” Because most women don’t do Kegels correctly! Don’t clench your butt cheeks or abs, for starters.
Imagine trying to hold back a stream of urine or stop from passing gas. Only a few muscles in a very specific area should be getting tighter. Until you’re sure you’ve got the technique right, practice Kegels lying down.
But watch out: if your bladder leaks are caused by a hypertonic pelvic floor where the muscles are too tight, Kegels can actually make bladder leaks worse.
Find Your Perfect Product
There are mountains of terrible bladder leak products out there. Plus, even when choosing among the good ones, there is a ton of personal preference. Everyone’s body is a little different and leaks vary from person to person as well. That’s why, at Lily Bird, we’re such big believers in starting with a 10-pad, 10-day trial for only $1.99. You don’t have to buy a large package only to realize that it isn’t the right thing.
When you’re testing out bladder leak products, you’ll want to make sure that they fit well and are comfortable — and that they are “just right” in terms of absorbency. Too little absorbency and the leaks may leak. Too much and you’re wearing and paying for more than you need.
To find your perfect product, we recommend testing out a new product 5 to 10 times in different situations and on different days because every day is a little different.
Ready to tell your bladder who’s boss? Get pads and underwear for leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas delivered straight to your door from Lily Bird. Try 10 products today for $1.99.
Sydney Larson is passionate about solving real problems for real women and about de-stigmatizing women’s midlife health issues. She founded Lily Bird — a subscription service for midlife women for products we don’t want to buy in the store — to do just that! Her favorite part of the job is hearing from happy customers. When she’s not working, Sydney enjoys baking sourdough bread, hiking with her dog, and skiing with her husband.