Inconvenient Incontinence

By Edeline Anne Goh

Most women in their 40s are at the peak of their careers, likely to be successfully raising children and have reached high levels of emotional maturity.

However, despite these achievements, the relatively minor but undeniably embarrassing condition of Light Urinary Leakage (LUL) can cause an enormous decline in confidence levels, which then affects a woman’s entire life.

Going to work, attending family get-togethers and even exercising will not be the same if a woman does not know how to address LUL.

What Is LUL?

More than 2 million women suffer from LUL so if you’re suffering from it, you are definitely not alone. According to Dr. Seri Suniza Sufian, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, LUL is defined as “incidents of losing control, which causes very light urine leakage.” She explains that this can be caused by the weakening of your pelvic muscles or the weakness of your bladder. Sometimes, it can be both.

The risk of LUL is twenty five percent to thirty percent higher among women over 40. In fact, in a recent study, about forty percent of women in the menopausal age group were found to experience this condition.

However, women below the age of forty can also experience LUL as pelvic wall muscles can weaken due to weight gain, pregnancy and child birth.

How Does LUL Affect Women?

LUL can affect both men and women but it is more prevalent among women who tend to experience significant psychological stress due to this condition.

According to Dr. Hariyati Shahrima Abdul Majid, a Psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology, “a lot of people are in denial when they experience this type of medical condition due to the lack of knowledge and awareness.” She adds that people are often too ashamed to ask for help, do not know where to seek assistance and often think that they are suffering alone. “When this happens, they lose their sense of independence, and may not even be able to make simple decisions like where they want to go or what they want to do.”

Dr. Hariyati advises that the best way to handle a condition like this is to equip yourself with relevant knowledge about your health so you will appreciate your body and also identify changes, which affect your quality of life.

Also, it is important not to be judgmental.

If you and your friends are supportive of each other, sharing your experiences may help. In fact, you may even discover that the person sitting next to you is suffering from LUL too! This helps because you will be able to empathise with each other and be more likely to seek treatment.

Can LUL Be Treated?

Yes, LUL can be treated with simple pelvic exercises such as the well-known Kegel exercises. “Unfortunately, only 60% of women who practice Kegel do it the right way. However, when it’s done right, Kegel improves the situation tremendously,” says Neng Shahidah Sabullah, a Women’s Health Senior Physiotherapist.

Both men and women can practice Kegel exercises. All you need to do is imagine controlling your urge to urinate. Squeeze your muscles very gently and hold for ten seconds. While you are doing this, it is important to breathe at a normal pace. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Neng recommends doing a round of Kegel exercises before your meals but you can do it almost anytime — while you’re stuck in a traffic jam or in a long queue at the supermarket. It’s worth the effort as these simple exercises help to prevent and manage not just LUL but osteoarthritis and osteoporosis too.

Poise® unveiled its new and improved LUL pads and liners in conjunction with World Continence Week 2013. Present at the event was Emily Chong, Group Brand Manager of Adult Care, Kimberly-Clark Malaysia who stressed the importance of wearing a pad for LUL with quick, high absorbency and the ability to neutralise odour. “This will help with a woman’s confidence as she will feel free to lead an active lifestyle.” Besides, wetness issues can lead to skin irritation as well. So, wearing the right pads and liners are essential.

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