Is bladder weakness making you dread your summer hols?

While many people are looking forward to jetting away to hot and sandy destinations this summer, there’s evidence that not everyone is getting excited about going away.

New research suggests many women in the UK are silently dreading their holidays. The survey – conducted by Innovo – has found that bladder weakness is making many women anxious about going on holiday, with almost four in 10 of those who have bladder weakness saying they feel pressure to change their holiday plans owing to the embarrassment and anxiety their bladder problem can cause. One in 10 of these women also says she has cancelled a holiday completely because of bladder weakness worries.

“It’s a crying shame that women are sacrificing their well-earned holidays due to feeling insecure and anxious,” says GP and women’s health specialist Dr Pixie McKenna. “Summer holidays should be a source of excitement, not something we dread and would rather avoid.”

According to Dr McKenna, one in three women in the UK suffers from bladder weakness – making it more common than hay fever. “They worry about how bladder weakness will impact the things we most look forward to about our holidays, like swimming, wearing summer clothing, playing with our children and spending intimate time with our partner. It can cause huge embarrassment and anxiety for these women,” she adds.

The survey discovered one in 10 women who have bladder weakness would be anxious about having sex while on holiday. “Bladder weakness can cause leaking during sex,” explains Dr McKenna. “Therefore many women choose to avoid intimate situations altogether to avoid the embarrassment and anxiety it can cause.

“Summer holiday prep is also likely to mean an entirely different thing to women who have bladder weakness. These women are likely focusing on how they can wear an incontinence pad with their swimwear and summer clothing, how they will be able to cope in familiar surroundings without knowing where the nearest toilets are, and if their beach bag is big enough to fit in all they might need – including spare pads, spare underwear and even an entire change of clothing.”

Work those muscles

The solution to holiday bladder weakness worries, says Dr McKenna, is to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. “By strengthening the pelvic floor before holidays – and on an ongoing basis – women shouldn’t have to rely on pads,” she says.

Exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles – also called Kegel exercises, can indeed make a big difference with your bladder control if you practise them regularly. Your GP can explain how you should do Kegel exercises, but in the meantime here are a few things you can try yourself:

  • While sitting, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles 10-15 times in a row (imagine you’re trying to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet).
  • When you get better at squeezing, try holding each squeeze for a few seconds. You could also do more squeezes as you get used to the exercise.
  • Do your pelvic floor exercises when you’re at work, when you’re watching TV or when you’re on the bus or train.

Your Careway pharmacist can also help by advising you about products designed to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, and also by recommending pads that are so thin and discreet, nobody will know you’re wearing one.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.