Laughing so hard you cry? Fun. Laughing so hard that you pee your pants a little? Probably not so fun.
Light Bladder Leakage, or LBL, affects more of us than you would think. It is believed that urinary incontinence, which includes LBL, affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006). It can hold us back from enjoying the moment and living an active life; but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Despite LBL being such a common problem, unfortunately there is still a lot of stigma surrounding it that results in people suffering in silence. A massive 70% of people with urinary leakage choose not to seek advice and treatment - that’s something we believe absolutely NEEDS to change! The more we talk about LBL, the closer we can get to stamping out the taboo and encouraging people to seek treatment if they need it. There is almost always something that can be done to help those struggling with LBL.
What is Light Bladder Leakage?
Light bladder leakage is a form of urinary incontinence, whereby you experience involuntary leaking of urine from the bladder. It can happen when you sneeze or laugh, during exercise or other movement or even if you are experiencing a strong urge to pee - you know, the one that comes when you hear a trickling tap or when you’re unlocking your front door!
What Causes LBL?
Light bladder leakage can affect people of all ages, shapes, sizes and levels of health. However, there are certain conditions and life events that can increase your chances of experiencing LBL including:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Being overweight or obese
- Health conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, prostate issues and urinary tract infections
- Hysterectomy (where all or part of the uterus and/or ovaries are removed) or prostatectomy (where all or part of the prostate is removed)
- Certain medications.
A weakened pelvic floor is one of the biggest contributing factors when it comes to LBL. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the pelvic organs and keep them functioning as they should be (you can read more about it here). Pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, living a sedentary lifestyle, ageing and even constipation can all weaken the pelvic floor. It’s important to practice pelvic floor strengthening exercises through all ages and stages of your life to keep these muscles strong and reduce the risk of experiencing LBL. If you’re not already doing Kegels, now is the best time to start!
How do you Stop Light Bladder Leakage?
The good news is that in most cases, there are ways to treat and manage LBL - and treatment is effective!
Start by consulting your doctor to find out what is causing your light bladder leakage and rule out any serious health issues.
As one of the most common causes of LBL is a weakened pelvic floor, pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels are a good place to start when it comes to treatment. We’ve got a guide to understanding the pelvic floor and how to do Kegels here. Pilates is another form of exercise that will help to strengthen the pelvic floor. Improving pelvic floor tone can do wonders for strengthening your bladder and preventing leaks.
You should also avoid certain LBL triggers, including:
- Acidic liquids like orange juice or sugary soft drinks
Although it is tempting, it’s definitely not a good idea to hold back on drinking water to prevent leaks. This can lead to other health problems. Make sure you are drinking around 1.5L of water per day to keep your body healthy.
Managing a Weak Bladder
LBL or not, we all deserve to feel comfortable and confident as we go about our day. Reusable cloth pads are a great, eco-friendly option for absorbing any bladder leaks, as are absorbent leak-proof underwear. These will protect your clothes, keep you dry and prevent any tell-tale wet patches. Carry an extra pad and pair of undies with a wet bag just in case you need to change throughout the day.
Planning is also important if you deal with a weak bladder or LBL. Notice the amount of time your body needs between drinking water and needing to use the toilet so that you can plan bathroom access or trips.
Breaking the Taboo
So many of us feel alone in our struggle with LBL, but the truth is that it is extremely common and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s highly likely that your friends, family and colleagues have experienced it at some point in life! Don’t be afraid to speak up about LBL and see your doctor if you are concerned or would like to explore treatment options.