Having urinary leaks does not mean you have to cancel your travel plans.
MOST people love to travel as a means of experiencing new sights and sounds. For many, the excitement begins as soon as they decide to take a holiday. Pinning down the destination and making the necessary travel arrangements is half the fun.
For people with urinary leaks, however, it may be a totally different story altogether. Just hearing the word “travel” may make them release an involuntary gasp. Their apprehension grows as the travel itinerary unravels, and they may even plot schemes to avoid joining the trip all together.
While others are envisioning a pleasurable beach holiday, people with urinary leaks are wondering how to endure the journey there. While friends discuss spa and sauna options, they have to check out where the nearest toilet is.
“Travel is usually not a favourite activity of people with urinary leaks,” says consultant gynaecologist Dr Seri Suniza Sufian. “They worry about wetting their clothing and smelling bad, not being able to get to the toilet in time, and troubling others to make multiple toilet stops.”
Sometimes, it’s not just about forgoing holidays. Many women secretly mourn not being able to visit their faraway children, best friends or family for fear they might face embarrassing “accidents” during the journey.
“Urinary leaks can really affect one’s quality of life if they don’t take the necessary steps to manage it well,” stresses Dr Seri.
However, having urinary leaks should not imprison people to their homes.
With proper planning and management, people with urinary leaks can still enjoy travelling and an outdoor life. Two months before the trip you could: > Start practising Kegel’s Exercises if you haven’t already started. If you are already doing these exercises to strengthen the internal muscles, intensify the practice by exercising more often.
> Look into the itinerary to know what to expect and how to prepare for it. For instance, extra preparation is required for journeys along bumpy roads, happy get-togethers and fruit-eating sessions as these are occasions where you may jerk, laugh and cough more, which may make you leak more.
> Perform bladder retraining exercises to improve urine control. Start by holding for 30 minutes, then slowly stretching it to an hour, 90 minutes and a maximum of two hours.
> See a doctor to discuss whether you need medication to reduce muscle tone and improve urge incontinence, such as creams or tablets. One week before: > Pack early to avoid missing anything important that can spoil your trip.
> Don’t forget to pack products for the management of your urinary leaks, such as urinary pads that can absorb high amounts of liquids and also conceal bad odour.
> Also pack urinary pads in your hand carry, in case your suitcase gets rerouted somewhere else and takes longer to arrive.
> Practice relaxation techniques to give yourself a more positive outlook about your incontinence problem. Tell yourself it’s just a normal body function and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’ll find yourself not only looking forward to the trip but also managing it better throughout! During the travel period: > Have extra plastic bags at hand to dispose of your used pads discreetly after use.
> Watch your diet. Avoid spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol which increases urine production. Don’t smoke and drink cold water as they can make you cough more, hence leak more.
> Visit the toilet every few hours to avoid having an overfull bladder.
Most importantly, people with urinary leaks must be brave enough to voice their problems be it to a doctor or a urinary leak helpline to get help.
Being open about your problem will help you understand that you are not alone and that help is available. Having incontinence is no reason to become a social recluse. n This article is brought to you by Poise products to raise awareness on urinary leaks and its impact on the quality of life.
For the year-end travelling season, Poise products is hosting a MoreTravelling contest to encourage women who are experiencing the condition to help them get more out of life.
Winners will be rewarded with tickets to Gold Coast, Australia, and holiday packages. For details, visit poise.com.my or call the Consumer Careline at 1-800-82-1188.