Managing the Mood Swings of Menopause

Drastic mood swings  – an emotional roller coaster of irritation, depression, and anger – define the years leading up to menopause, otherwise known as perimenopause.  Studies show that one in four women will experience symptoms of depression and emotional irritability during this time. Many women experience some form of emotional instability before her period is set to begin (PMS), but with time these symptoms tend to last longer and become more severe. Unfortunately, why this occurs is still unclear.

“We all know that there is a correlation between your hormones and your moods, but we really don’t understand it,” says Susan Love, MD, in her book Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause and Hormone Book.“The hormonal changes don’t actually cause the depression, but they change your body’s equilibrium, so that a situation that would normally upset you a little upsets you a lot, and a situation that would normally upset you a lot devastates you.”

Fortunately, there are ways to take control of your emotions and make this transition bearable for you and your family. Here are just a few suggestions:

Control Hot Flashes

Hot flashes can make even the happiest women moody. Keeping your house cool and wearing layers and/or loose clothing may provide some relief. Tight clothing can make hot flashes more intense. So trade in your leggings for looser, more comfortable clothing, at least until your symptoms ease.

Adding soy to your diet could also help. “The average woman in Japan (where hot flashes are relatively rare) eats four to six servings of soy per day,” says Christine Northrup, MD, in her book The Wisdom of Menopause. Some may also benefit from meditation. “Studies show meditation can cool hot flashes in 90 percent of women, without any hormonal therapy at all,” says Northrup. “This is because meditation lowers stress hormone levels.”

Manage Insomnia

A good night’s sleep is another victim of perimenopause. “Insufficient sleep leaves us obviously drowsy, fatigued, and irritable,” says Northrup, which makes this transition just that much harder. She blames insomnia on “unresolved emotions such as anger, sadness, or anxiety, which often accompany the enormous changes of midlife.” She suggests establishing and sticking to a firm bedtime, even on weekends, to give you sufficient sleep. Follow that up with a soothing nighttime ritual that includes dressing comfortably and writing down everything that is bothering you so you won’t run through it “like a gerbil on a wheel” while trying to get to sleep.

Regular Exercise

There is no scientific proof that exercise reduces hot flashes or insomnia, but it can improve your self image, which goes a long way to improving your mood. Other benefits of regular exercise include, according to the Mayo Clinic, keeping your weight in check, reducing cancer risks, improving bone health, reducing risks for other diseases such as diabetes, and it’s a proven mood enhancer.

If you’ve been out of the exercise habit for a while, Christine Northrup recommends you just start moving. “Movement is contagious. Today’s dancing around your living room will eventually wake up enough of your muscles that you’ll want to do more.” Keep trying new activities until you find some you enjoy. Hate running? Go for a walk or bike ride. Just remember to include some strength training because lifting weights can slow down and even improve bone loss.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

If lifestyle changes do not work, your doctor may suggest hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Some see this therapy as a last resort because it has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. However, for those suffering from menopausal symptoms the relief it provides may be worth it. “If you have moderate to severe symptoms that are sufficient to interfere with your life, then by all means take HRT – but not for more than four to five years” says Jacques Rossouw, MD, and director of the Women’s Health Initiative in an article in Everyday Health. “And in most cases it’s not even necessary to take it that long.”

Prioritize Self-care

“It’s something women know intuitively but often ignore: You have to take care of yourself,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, in Everyday Health. The author of What Every Woman Needs to Know About Menopausesays, “De-stress daily through deep breathing, yoga, exercise, or even by talking with a good friend or your spouse. Spend time alone. Don’t smoke, eat healthfully, and stay active. These things are crucial for keeping your mood steady.”

That last one is the most important. Your body and mind are going through intense changes. Northrup likens it to puberty. “Externally and internally, this period is a mirror image of adolescence, a time when our bodies and brains were also going through major hormonal shifts that gave us the energy to attempt to individuate from our families and become the person we were meant to be.” However, the pressures of life as a teenager differ greatly from those we currently experience. The pressures of balancing careers and family life take their toll. Be kind to yourself, and your body and mind will thank you, making this difficult transition that much easier to handle.

 

 

What Gifts Do New Moms Really Want

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. A day set aside to shower mothers with flowers, brunches, cards, and phone calls, anything and everything to let them know just how much they mean to us.

But what about soon-to-be moms? The supply list for new babies is endless – strollers, diapers, baby clothes, changing tables, etc. and every new mom will be grateful for whatever she receives. But what gift means the most to them? What is something they will treasure forever? I posed this question to several women from all over the world, some with young children and others with whose children now have babies of their own. Here is what they had to say:

Sophie Giraffe was the best present I was given when my youngest daughter was born. It’s a rubber teether in a giraffe shape. It’s certainly not cheap but worth the money. I now buy one for every newborn baby I know.

-Hollie, England, mother of two

For my first child, a friend’s grandma knitted a cardigan for him. All my children had that cardigan for their first months. By the time my friend had his first child the grandma had passed. We gave him the cardigan. He said it was the best present. When I was pregnant with my second child a good friend was suffering from depression. I asked her to knit a blanket as a gift. It helped her to work on something and focus. It was the best gift my daughter received. She still has it even if it now seems really small.

        -Christie, France, mother of three

A week or so after delivering my first child, a friend called to tell me she was coming to see us and the new baby. I was living at the Oregon Coast at the time and she lived about an hour and half away near Portland. When she arrived I offered the baby to her, but she said, “First I’m going to clean your house. Show me your cleaning supplies.” She said someone had done that for her and it was the nicest gift she was given. She swept, vacuumed, dusted, loaded the dishwasher, just light cleaning, but it meant I didn’t have to do it. I was struggling with postpartum depression and not producing enough milk to feed my daughter at the time so I wasn’t up for much of anything. It was the perfect gift.

         -Wendy, United States, mother of two

When Caleb was one he was teething and it was terrible. He was so uncomfortable. To help soothe him we would lie on a blanket under the apple tree. We’d listen to a pair of doves that lived in the nearby tree while watching the light through the leaves. My hubby bought me a swing and installed it under this apple tree for Mother’s Day that year. Caleb also cut five teeth that weekend – two of the best gifts. Seventeen years later Caleb has lost those teeth, but I still have that swing.

       Victoria, United States, mother of one

I was so grateful to receive a traveling nursing pillow, which my son now uses as a pillow in his crib. I was also really happy to get a personalized book from Wonderbly. My mum gave us “The Boy Who Lost His Name.” It’s about a little boy who goes on adventures to find his name. Each adventure gives him a new letter and by the end of the story the letters spell my son’s name. It’s such a cute and personal gift.

         -Jaimee, Canada, mother of one

A few years ago I met a traditional Mexican midwife during a workshop here in the Netherlands. When it came time to discuss life postpartum her first question was what kind of gift do new mothers usually receive here? What followed was mostly silence with some mentioning jewelry or flowers. Then she said that in Mexico a cerrada, or closing ceremony, is the customary gift. The new mother is massaged, given an herb bath, and her belly is wrapped and cared for. This several hours of pampering, this  “mothering the mother gift,” should be mandatory everywhere. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn about this pampering until after my sons were born, but I found it very inspiring.

-Daleep, Russia, mother of two

I gave birth to my son 27 years ago and still remember the moment of the gift. It was a diamond ring that had been in my husband’s family for at least 50 years. My mother-in-law gave it to me to celebrate the first grandson from both of our families.

  -Naldy, Brazil, mother of two

Personally, my father gave me the gift of sleep. When my youngest son was just a few weeks old he woke constantly during the night and refused to go back to sleep. I averaged about two hours a night and could barely function during the day. Fortunately, my parents were staying with me and my father told me to call him if Parker wouldn’t go back to sleep. Sure enough one night at 3 a.m. Parker refused to sleep. I called to my father and he came down those narrow Dutch stairs, took Parker from me, and let me go back to bed. I slept 5 hours that night. Best gift ever!

            -Cristin, United States now Belgium, mother of two

Though it’s important to remember that the perfect gift for new moms may not always come from a store, anything designed to make their lives a little easier will be appreciated. Many of the responses I received included books, teeny-tiny clothes, mountains of diapers, and good advice (“always sleep when the baby is sleeping”). Being a new mom is amazing, overwhelming, and often exhausting. For those looking for the perfect gift know that sometimes just being there is present enough. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

 

 

Stress and Incontinence

There is little doubt that we lead stressful lives. In a recent study by the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of Americans claim their stress level has increased or stayed the same over the last year. Some blame technology and how social media dominates our every waking moment. Others look to our need to multi-task and the sheer speed of our modern lives, making it difficult to slow down and be present in the world. This constant stress takes its toll. Common effects of stress on your mind and body include headaches, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and irritability. If left unchecked, chronic stress could lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks.

Now take the stress of everyday life and add the anxiety that comes with incontinence to the mix. The feelings of social isolation, loss of control, and decreased confidence are overwhelming to many people. The fear of public accidents keep some from pursuing activities they once enjoyed like travel, exercise, and other social activities. These worries compound over time creating even higher levels of stress and anxiety, which could worsen symptoms. One study found that “women with anxiety (were) more likely to report worsening lower urinary tract symptoms.”

According Stress Relief Resources, this increase in symptoms could be due to certain neurotransmitters, which are formed from amino acids and allow cells to communicate with each other. “When you feel the effects of mental or emotional stress, these neurotransmitters tell all the other cells to get ready to either stand up to the stress or to run away from it.” The article continues: “They stimulate other neurotransmitters and also our cells to respond in ways that physically affect you by evoking three major physiological processes: your reaction to pain, your tendency to succumb to depression, and your control of unexpected bladder leakage.”

Fortunately, there are ways to ease stress and live a more mindful life. Here are five popular methods for stress relief:

1. Exercise

No list of healthy habits would be complete without mentioning exercise. By raising your heart rate during exercise you’re actually subjecting your body to a low-level type of stress. When you make regular physical activity a part of your life this low-level stress helps your body handle the outside stresses of life better. It also gives you energy and increases your confidence, which women who experience incontinence tend to lack. Plus exercise just makes you feel good by releasing dopamine, a chemical that plays a role in happiness, into your brain.

2. Avoid procrastination

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” Procrastination is a horrible habit. It brings temporary relief by putting off unpleasant tasks, but adds stress to our lives because those tasks still need to be done. The more we procrastinate, the more tasks build up, increasing our anxiety. Like any bad habit, eliminating procrastination requires a plan. Prioritize your tasks and create a schedule that allows you to get things done but still allows for some free time.

3. Limit caffeine

There’s a reason so many of us require a cup (or two, or three) of coffee to get us going in the morning. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. Ingesting too much could lead to increases in the stress hormone cortisol. High and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream could lead to high blood pressure and blood sugar imbalances. In moderation caffeine could be fine, but if you already suffer from high levels of anxiety, it may be best to switch to herbal teas.

4. Spend quality time with friends and family

One study found that spending time with friends and family helps women release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. Quality time does not mean a rushed family dinner, “liking” a friend’s Facebook post, or time spent traveling to tennis lessons.  Instead, spend an afternoon hiking the trails with your best friend or have a family game night rather than watching T.V. Creating memories is a great stress reliever.

5. Practice mindfulness

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us,” according to the website Mindful. Yoga and meditation are both excellent ways to practice mindfulness. Yoga has been shown to lower stress hormone levels and blood pressure. Meditation clears your mind. It’s not easy to rid your mind of to-do lists or past regrets. Instead give yourself five minutes to sit comfortably and breathe deeply. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the present by focusing on your breath. It takes time and practice to cultivate mindfulness but it’s worth every moment.

These are just a few examples of ways to relieve stress. Some, such as yoga, limiting caffeine, and physical activity, have also been found to relieve symptoms of incontinence. Using deep breathing techniques and strengthening pelvic floor muscles provide greater control and confidence when it comes to facing incontinence. Take the time to practice stress relief. Your body and mind will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The effect of incontinence throughout a woman’s life.

Perimenopausal Women

Mia kept her head down and walked as fast she could to the nearest bathroom. By the time she reached the stall and locked herself in, tears were streaming down her burning cheeks. Before she even looked, she knew she was soaked through. Mia breathed in deeply, her lips trembling as she tried to calm herself. She finally looked down. Her light denim jeans had large wet patches around the top of her thighs. A sob escaped as Mia tried to think of how she could get through the shopping centre back to her car without anybody noticing. She pulled her jumper off, despite the freezing weather and tied it tightly around her waist. Then she wiped her face, blew her nose and collected herself. As she walked briskly through the busy shops, abandoning the groceries she had come for, she was aware of the smell of urine lingering around her. Mia wondered, for possibly the millionth time, how she could be a fifty-year-old woman, yet feel like a toddler not quite grasping the skill of toilet training. Once safely inside her car, she placed her head down on her steering wheel and questioned how life had suddenly become so hard.

Post Childbirth

Angela stared at her baby, sleeping peacefully in his cot. She leaned over and gently ran her finger over his pink cheek. He was a good baby. A perfect one when compared to the struggles some of her friends were going through. Angela sighed and went to the living room to sit on the couch. She didn’t know what else to do. Her days were all the same, stuck inside the four walls of her home. Her mother thought she was depressed and kept encouraging her to go for long walks. One of her friends had suggested she join a mother’s group for company. Her husband wondered if she should make some coffee dates, after all, the baby was well behaved and would most likely sleep in his pram. But they didn’t understand. Angela had almost gone out that very morning. The sun was shining and she’d felt particularly cheerful. But then she’d sneezed. Her bladder had emptied, right there on the carpet of her bedroom and she’d spent the next half an hour cleaning urine from the floor. She couldn’t go anywhere. The thought sat like led in her stomach, all the time. Was this what life would be like forever? Angela wondered, yet again.

Ageing Women

Beth had raised five children and helped in the raising of twelve grandchildren. She was a woman with a solution for everything, nothing could phase her. But as she purchased the packet of adult nappies, she felt defeated for the first time in her life. After months of accidents though, she couldn’t put it off any longer. Sometimes, it would be just a trickle of urine, when she laughed particularly hard. But then there were the times she’d cough or sneeze and there was no stopping the flow. That very morning had been the worst. Beth’s daughter came over for tea, and as Beth took a bite of her cake, a little caught in her throat, causing a coughing fit. Beth still felt the deep shame in seeing her daughter staring, open-mouthed, at the small puddle gathering beneath her feet. She couldn’t let that happen again, even if it meant feeling as though she were losing her dignity.

Incontinence is not a life sentence. Women can regain their freedom and confidence by seeking treatment.

Do you relate to one of these women? Incontinence affects one in three women at some point in their life and many do not seek treatment.  Women often endure the stigma associated with incontinence in private, feeling shame and humiliation. However, it does not need to be this way.  Urine leakage does not have to be a permanent condition. By seeking help from health professionals or by using a product such as Carin Wear, women can discover the empowerment of taking control over their recovery and regaining their life. As women, let’s support each other by sharing our experiences and spreading the hope that seeking treatment offers.

Karyn Sepulveda is an Australian author of Women’s Fiction and host of the podcast ‘Letters To Our Yesterday’. Check out her work at: www.karynsepulveda.com

 

 

Empowered by Carin

One month ago I began a journey of empowerment, a long journey to regain the strength and confidence I let slide for nearly 10 years. I vowed to follow the program on the Carin app designed to strengthen my pelvic floor. In addition, I would stick with an eating and exercise program to improve my overall health. I knew it would be challenging because not only am I the queen of procrastination, but I also give up when things get uncomfortable – never a good combination. However, I knew that if I wanted to stop living a life of regret, I had to stick to my goals.

I told myself “four weeks, just give it four weeks.” You know what? I did it. I stuck with it for four weeks and am still going strong. I switched to a plant-based diet, focusing on whole foods – nothing processed. I incorporated strength training and cardio in my exercise routine and practiced yoga every day. At the end of each yoga session I spent 10 minutes following the exercises on the Carin app. Since I began in February I’m pleased to say that I’ve lost five pounds (about 2.5 kilos) and no longer experience any leaks.

Carin makes it easy

Carin made strengthening my pelvic floor so simple. Each day I kept track of my liquid intake on the app. I keep my phone in the kitchen so I could log in anytime I had a cup of tea, water, or the occasional glass of wine. Once a week I wore the underwear and monitor throughout the day and during the night. Then, once I synced the monitor to the app, I could see my progress.

My first cycle registered barely a dribble. During the second cycle I had the flu, coughing uncontrollably for nearly two weeks, which led to much higher measurements. Then I remembered something I saw near the end of the Week 1 exercises. I should tighten my pelvic floor muscles every time I cough. I tried it and when I measured the following week nothing showed up, even though I was coughing constantly. The remaining cycles have also been clear. If only following the diet and motivating myself to exercise was as easy!

Carin’s comfort and effectiveness

My monitoring time may be done, but I will definitely continue to wear the underwear. It’s not only pretty but also extremely comfortable. It holds its shape after numerous washings and contours my body perfectly. While the underwear is great and the whole monitoring process is fascinating, it’s the exercise program, both its pace and content, that really sells me on Carin.

Nancy Cuppen, a sport professional with 15 years of athletic instruction, designed Carin’s exercise program. The program is split into several cycles. You spend the first cycle just getting to know how to locate your pelvic floor. The strengthening exercises begin during the second cycle. A stability ball and an exercise mat come in handy here. These exercises may look simple on the video, but you can really feel them working.  The first few sessions I was grateful they were only 10 minutes. By the end of the cycle, however, I was ready to move on.  As each cycle progresses the exercises get more and more challenging. A stronger pelvic floor not only benefits incontinence, but improves your posture as well. I certainly notice myself sitting straighter and walking taller.

 What’s next?

I feel great. Not only do I feel lighter in my body but also lighter in my mind. I no longer have to carry around the guilt and regret of not following through on my goals. I’m grateful to Carin for making the program so easy to follow, which has made it easier to pursue other goals. I’m now officially hooked on the plant-based lifestyle. This spring I’ll be running my first half-marathon in nearly 20 years. I still have a long way to go but I’m off to a great start!

 

Are Late Night Bathroom Trips Keeping You Awake?

We all know that a good night’s sleep is vital for a healthy mind and body. Adequate sleep improves your memory, creativity, attention span, and weight loss. It also reduces stress, depression, and may even help you to live longer. Experts agree that we need at least seven hours of sleep a night to reap its benefits. However, one in three people do not get enough sleep, according to the Center for Disease Control. The blame is often put on our fast-paced lifestyles, our addiction to electronic devices, and our need to always do more – send one more email, reply to one more text. We live in a society that views getting by on four hours of sleep as a badge of honor.

But what happens when you do go to sleep on time but have trouble staying asleep? What can you do when you have to use the bathroom once, twice, or three times a night? One in three adults over the age of 30 experiences nocturia, the frequent need to urinate during the night, says the Urology Care Foundation. Researchers agree that this loss of sleep leads to decreased health and sense of well being, contributing to fatigue, increased risk of heart disease, memory loss, and depression. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to reduce and/or eliminate those nocturnal trips.

Limit beverages. Stop drinking any liquid two to four hours before bedtime. Limit alcohol and caffeine, which are known to stimulate the bladder, all day long.

 Keep a diary. The Cleveland Clinic suggests beginning with a voiding diary. Keep a record of your drinking and how often you urinate. Pay special attention to how much you go during the day and night. By monitoring your habits you may be able to find a pattern you can then modify. You may also discover potential problems. They say “If you’re urinating more than eight times in 24 hours, that’s too much.”

Tighten that pelvic floor. Yes, here is another area where strong pelvic muscles can benefit by improving bladder control. Kegel exercises, yoga, and following the exercises on the Carin App are all excellent ways to strengthen these all-important muscles.

Check for sleep apnea. Our bodies produce an anti-diuretic hormone during deep sleep, that allows us to retain more fluid overnight, says the Cleveland Clinic. Because people with sleep apnea don’t reach that level of deep sleep, their bodies can’t make enough of this hormone. Oxygen levels also drop during apnea episodes causing the kidneys to excrete more water.

Talk to your doctor. If you’ve tried changing your lifestyle with little success, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Frequent bathroom trips during the night could be more than just a nuisance. They could signify underlying health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, liver failure, and Parkinson’s.

Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep

Still having trouble sleeping? There could be other issues involved. In her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, Arianna Huffington offers several ways to get a good night’s sleep. Following these tips won’t only help you initially fall asleep faster, but they will also help you go back to sleep if you wake up during the night.

Turn off the e-readers and keep all electronic devices out of the bedroom. “That blue light,” says Huffington, “the sort given off by our ubiquitous electronic devices, is especially good at suppressing melatonin – which makes it especially bad for our sleep.” If you must read before bed, choose a real book and a bedside lamp with a soft light.

Keep your bedroom cool and have a window open. The ideal temperature is 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 18 degrees Celsius). “We know that a cool bedroom environment is key to getting a good night’s sleep,” says Natalie Dautovich from the National Sleep Foundation, and a small drop in body temperature can prompt sleep signals to our brain.

Be sure to exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Daily exercise, even as little as 20 to 30 minutes a day, helps calm our minds when it’s time to sleep. When it comes to diet what not to eat is more important than what you do eat. Stay away from big, heavy meals near bedtime.

Stop worrying about endless to-do lists. That’s easier said then done, but practicing meditation and yoga does wonders to calm your mind. Huffington uses a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson to help quiet her mind as she tries to sleep. He said, “Finish every day, and be done with it…You have done what you could – some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as fast as you can, tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to sleep through the night, wake up refreshed, and be ready to tackle the day? With a little planning and work it is possible. Do you have other remedies for getting a good night’s sleep? Please share them in the comments. We would love to hear from you. For now I wish you all a good night.

 

 

Getting Started With Carin

As fifty creeps ever closer my body continues to change in ways I never expected, both emotionally and physically. My back rebels when I spend too much time in the garden. My patience is thin, but my belly is not. Sentimental commercials bring me to tears, while a dirty glass left near the sink brings on a 30-minute tirade to anyone within earshot. It’s not fun. As a woman in the throes of perimenopause with two children and several pounds to lose, I also experience stress incontinence. Experiencing leaks is a lousy part of getting older, but at least with a little work this one is correctable.

Treatments Options for Stress Incontinence

A quick Google search reveals more than a million results offering treatment options. These include Kegel exercises, devices to capture urine, electrical stimulation, hormonal creams to restore vaginal tissue, surgery, and, of course, the traditional thick pads to capture leaks. Most of these sites agree that stress incontinence is due to weak pelvic floor muscles brought on by childbirth, pregnancy, obesity, and menopause. However, there are a wide variety of methods and devices available to strengthen those muscles. Most include some form of vaginal cone that you can insert to strengthen the pelvic floor. I even found an egg made of jade that you insert for at least two hours three times a week. However, I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to inserting objects into my body, which is why Carin is the perfect solution.

What Makes Carin Different

Carin began in 2015 by creating washable protective underwear for women with mild incontinence, eliminating the need for thick pads. “We designed Carin to be a non-invasive solution,” says Julia Veldhuijzen van Zanten, the company’s creative lead and co-founder. “We wanted it to be a positive experience for women. The underwear doesn’t look like something you would find in a hospital. Rather it’s pretty and fits in with your daily life.” But they didn’t stop at just offering protection. They also offer women a solution to manage and, eventually, eliminate leaks. Included with the underwear is a sensor and app to monitor leaks and an exercise program designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. The whole process requires a commitment of only 10 minutes a day for four to six weeks. Within four weeks 80 percent of women noticed an improvement.

Ready to Begin

Now it’s time for me to begin. I have underwear, a sensor, and directions to get me started. First I unplug the sensor from the charger, attach it to the top front of the underwear, and load up the app to my phone. Technology and I don’t always get along so I was pleased to see how easy it all was to set up. The underwear is made from microfiber, the same used in sportswear so it dries quickly and feels comfortable. During the day I keep track of how much I drink and spend 10 minutes doing the exercises, usually after my regular workout.

Over the next four weeks I will follow the exercises on the app, log my liquid intake, and monitor my progress. The app sends gentle reminders just in case I forget. It’s also time to embrace a healthier lifestyle, maybe drop a few pounds in the process. I don’t like counting calories or following rigid diet plans. Instead I’ll follow the “Vegan Before 6” plan by Mark Bittman, a food writer for the New York Times. During the day I eat a plant-based diet – lots of steel-cut oats, smoothies, whole grain salads full of vegetables, soups, nuts, and fresh fruit. In the evening I can fix whatever I want for the whole family, adding cheese, fish, and, occasionally, chicken. The Internet is full of great recipes. I know it won’t be easy – I really like cookies – but it’s only 30 days. Anything is possible for 30 days, right? I can’t wait to share my progress at the end of March. If you’d like to join me, please let me know in the Comments section. I’d love the company. Have a great month!

 

Understanding Incontinence

Treatment, Incontinence, Menopause, Childbirth,

Knowledge is power when it comes to medical conditions. Urinary incontinence is no exception. Incontinence comes in many forms. From a few leaks post-pregnancy to a complete loss of bladder control. It’s important to remember that this condition is not a disease; rather it’s a symptom. It’s necessary to become familiar with the different forms so you know which treatment to seek. To get you started here is a brief summary of the five types of adult incontinence, according to the Mayo Clinic, along with possible treatment options.

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence, affecting nearly 15 million women just in the United States. It occurs when physical activity, such as coughing, sneezing or lifting heavy objects, puts pressure on your bladder. The primary cause is due to weak pelvic floor muscles. Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are all contributing factors. This explains why more women are affected than men. Obesity and smoking are also risk factors.

Treatments: The good news is that it’s also the easiest to treat. People who lose weight and use exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles notice a remarkable improvement. Try the pelvic floor exercises on the Carin app. Following the Carin program for 10 minutes a day over a four to six week period will noticeably strengthen pelvic floor muscles, decreasing leaks even after the second week.

Urge Incontinence

You have urge incontinence when “you have a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine,” according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s the “I always have to go” feeling that often wakes you up during the night. The cause could be something minor, such as an infection, or a sign that the bladder’s nerves are damaged by something more severe like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. Risk factors for this condition are women who have had a C-section or other pelvic surgery, obesity, and those suffering from frequent urinary tract infections.

Treatments: Timed voiding and bladder training are two possible techniques to curb urge incontinence. With timed voiding you record the times that you urinate and when you leak urine on a chart. Eventually you can establish patterns and know when you should be going to the bathroom ahead of time. You can also train your bladder by planning to use the bathroom once an hour. Then you stretch it to once every 90 minutes and eventually stretch it so you can wait three to four hours between bathroom visits. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and weight loss will also help with this type of incontinence.

Overflow Incontinence

If you experience a frequent dribble of urine even when you don’t have the urge to urinate, you may have overflow incontinence, which occurs when your bladder doesn’t completely empty.  Unlike stress and urge incontinence, overflow incontinence is more common in men than women. Usually an enlarged prostate is the cause, but it could also be due to nerve damage, a blockage of the urethra, medications, or weak bladder muscles.

Treatments: Treating this type of incontinence is difficult, but certain types of medication can relax the muscle at the base of the urethra, allowing urine to pass from the bladder. If medications do not help, it may be necessary to insert a catheter in the urethra that will allow the bladder to empty completely.

Functional Incontinence

This type occurs when you know that you need to go to the bathroom but may not be able to get there in time due to physical or mental limitations. It is more common in elderly people and is associated with conditions that affect the elderly such as dementia, arthritis, or even unwillingness to use the toilet due to depression or anxiety.

Treatments include those mentioned earlier – bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, and setting up a schedule for bathroom trips. There are ways to reduce accidents. Make sure you wear clothing that is easy to remove, and the path to the bathroom is uncluttered. Always know where the bathrooms are whenever you are outside your home and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Mixed Incontinence

As the name suggests this type is a mixture, usually a combination of stress and urge incontinence. The causes are also similar – childbirth, pregnancy, and damage to the nerves of the bladder due to surgeries or diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.

Treatments: Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is key, but other methods such as bladder training and timed voiding can also help.

Most people feel uncomfortable talking about incontinence. They may be embarrassed or consider it just a normal part of aging. Nearly everyone on the planet will have some form of incontinence at some point during his or her life so there’s no need for embarrassment. You are not alone. Help is available, but it’s important to talk with your doctor to identify what type you have and plan a course of treatment together.

Two New Year’s Resolutions To Make If You Have This Problem

Two resolutions to make when you have this problem

This January 1st Rebecca began running again, the first step in fulfilling her new year’s resolution to drop 30 pounds. She took it slow, switching between walking and running every few minutes. The crisp air invigorated her and her new running shoes cushioned every step. Yet each time she started running she could feel herself leak a little urine. Her good mood vanished. She was only 42. How could this be happening to her now?

On the other side of the city Janine put her two young children down for a nap and returned to her friends sitting around the dining room table. Someone told a story that had Janine doubled over in laughter. Suddenly she felt something not so funny – she could feel herself leaking. She was so embarrassed she had to leave the room to change. Instead of seeking a solution, both women were too embarrassed by their condition so their leaks continued to be a problem.

 A Real Medical Condition

If you are, like Rebecca and Janine, one of the 200 million men and women worldwide with urinary incontinence, it is time to stop being embarrassed and do something about it. It is a real medical condition and there are treatments available to reduce the chances of leaks or eliminate them altogether. In fact, “80 percent of those affected by urinary incontinence can be cured or improved,” states the National Association for Continence (NAFC). Start this New Year with two resolutions that are easy to keep: Talk (to your doctor) about your incontinence and begin an exercise program to strengthen your pelvic floor.

Natasja Beks fit mother and business woman

Many women stop their exercise routine because of embarrassment for leaks. With Carin you feel protected and work on your pelvic floor at the same time.

Knowledge Defeats Embarrassment

There is a stigma that surrounds this condition. According to one study, people would rather admit to having depression or cancer than admit to having urinary incontinence. Why is it considered taboo? Many women associate it with “imperfection, vulnerability, and a loss of control, which are things that they find it hard to be open about in relation to themselves and their bodies, “ says Fiona Berkely, a UK film director who created a documentary about adult incontinence.

Women are ashamed so they feel the need to suffer in silence, considering it just a normal sign of aging. While it’s true that more than half of seniors are plagued by incontinence, growing older is just one of many risk factors. Other factors include childbirth, obesity, menopause, and high blood pressure.

Incontinence of any form takes a tremendous toll on people’s lives. In this study authors Amy Sinclair and Ian Ramsay found tremendous impacts on the lives of women. Some examples include a diminished sex life and poorer relationships due to a lack of intimacy, poor sleep quality, and a reluctance to visit new places and have new experiences.

On average, women wait 6.5 years from the first time they experience symptoms until they obtain a diagnosis, according to the NAFC. That is a waste of nearly seven years. That is time spent worrying about leaks and the location of the nearest bathroom, rather than living. As mentioned earlier, this condition is normal and should never be a source of shame. Talk to your doctor about possible treatments and in the meantime, strengthen your pelvic floor.

Studies found that only 10 minutes of pelvic floor exercises per day you make your pelvic floor strong again.

A Strong Pelvic Floor Helps

Younger women tend to suffer from stress incontinence, which is when you leak a bit when you laugh, sneeze, jog, or lift heavy objects. A weakening in the pelvic floor (the muscles and tissues that surround the opening of the bladder) causes this form of incontinence and it is normal. Several simple treatments are available, including those provided by Carin. Not only does Carin provide an app training program to strengthen your pelvic floor, but you can also view your progress via a sensor that you wear in the included underwear. After four weeks of following the program for just 10 minutes a day, 80 percent of women see progress.

The next time you are at the market take a look at the people around you, especially the women. It’s likely most of them also experience some form of incontinence. Remember – this is a normal, and, for most people, a treatable condition. So what are you waiting for? Make this the year to stop being ashamed by those little leaks. Instead, take control. Talk to your doctor, discover why you are leaking, and fix it. Finally, a resolution that’s easy to keep.