Thursday, 17 November 2011
Age, Weight and Leaky Pipes
It has been more than two years since we last spoke of urinary incontinence. As I explained then:
”[L]ately, when I laugh, sneeze or cough with too much force, I leak. Or, more bluntly, I pee in my pants. Not a lot, a few drops, and it happens not just when I need to visit the bathroom; it can happen even when I have just peed.”
Although I included some useful medical information I'd tracked down, the best part was, as is usually so on this blog, in the comments. Cop Car (“I'm not dressed without a Maxipad”) made me laugh out loud and I immediately adopted her remedy.
Celia too made me laugh with an observation that seems all to true:
”At a family get together (mostly women) the topic came up after a conversation about leaking house plumbing. We thought it seems like women's lives are spent with some body part leaking.”
But Jan Adams hit on the reason I am resurrecting this topic today [emphasis added]:
”I find the degree to which I am leaky correlates with general fitness. But leaking happens, especially when I'm exercising.”
doctafil's story also addresses the exercise/leak correlation, but the “fitness” point most stands out for me today.
Over this past year, I have lost a lot of weight – at least 50 pounds, maybe 60 (I don't use a scale) – and a couple of months ago, it hit me that Cop Car's Maxipad remedy had been irrelevant for quite a while. I had stopped leaking.
For my leaky pipes story two years ago, I checked out only incontinence in general. This time, I looked for weight-related leak information. It turns out that some researchers at the University of California at San Francisco released a study on just this subject in 2009.
As reported in The New York Times and elsewhere, weight loss significantly reduced incidences of stress incontinence.
“'Our hypothesis is that increased weight puts increased pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor, and when you raise that pressure, you have less of a margin for increased pressure — through a cough, for example — before you lose your urine,' Dr. Subak said. 'If you lose weight, you have less pressure on the bladder.'”
We already knew that, didn't we? Anyone who's ever been pregnant can extrapolate that conclusion as another physician quoted in the Times story acknowledged:
”Dr. Elaine Waetjen, an associate professor of gynecology at University of California, Davis Health System who studies incontinence, said the results of the new clinical trial support what many women seem to know intuitively.
“'A number of my patients will come in, and if you ask when their incontinence started getting worse, they will say, “Well, I guess it was about the time I started gaining weight,’” she said.”
From the moment I hit puberty, I've fought creeping excess weight. Not much – 10 pounds or so that I lost many times and then, after menopause, it became much harder to keep the gain to a low roar so I just let it go. After a certain age, it sometimes feels like we deserve to eat all the ice cream we want.
But I had no idea when I made a plan to lose a lot of weight that it would solve my leaky pipes problem. What a terrific surprise. It won't work for everyone, but if the shoe fits (or doesn't), you might want to discuss this with your physician.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Raccoon