Stress incontinence, or the loss of bladder and bowel control, is caused when the pelvic-floor muscles which control the flow of urine and bowels are weakened. That can lead to involuntary leakage during exercise, running, sneezing, coughing, or being around running water such as when washing dishes. The condition may be caused by childbirth, neurological illnesses, by pressure on the bladder muscles because of obesity or pregnancy, too much sitting, poor posture, or even an old ankle injury.

1. Women who are stigmatized, especially in social interactions, experience a lowering of self-esteem because they feel that they are devalued in the eyes of others. They often act in ways that actually make their worst fears more than likely to come true as they suffer in silence. Although millions of women are affected by this, many are too embarrassed to seek help because of the stigma and shame of the condition. They may put off for years seriously talking to a health care professional, which, of course, is definitely recommended. Yet, this is a conversation that is difficult for many to have.

By discussing this situation, women can learn of special exercises that, with time and diligent performance, can help to alleviate the problem. In addition to the popular kegel exercises, there is a program designed by a Doctor of Physical Therapy that strengthens the pelvic floor muscles by exercises that properly rotate the legs and move the hips to awaken the incontinence prevention muscles and develop a stronger pelvic floor.

2. Many afflicted women rely on purchasing incontinence pads, but that can become costly, and, unless it is just “drips” of urine, heavier and involuntary discharges can run over the pad and wet the underwear and clothes. The next step is often wearing an adult diaper, but there are psychological problems with that for many potential wearers who wouldn’t want to admit to seeking that solution.

3. A new and pioneering hidden device claims to reduce the risk of leaks while the pessary allows women to manage the problem themselves. Named URESTA, the reusable rubber device is shaped like a bell and, when inserted, supports the muscles of the bladder and prevents urine from escaping including even in stressful physical activities like aerobics. It can be used all day, is conveniently washable, and gives freedom to get back into doing physical exercise without the worry of embarrassing accidents.

Some celebrities have come forward with stories of how they’ve had to fight incontinence, and that has lowered the stigma to some extent. Comedian Whoopi Goldberg, for one, has openly discussed her issues with Light Bladder Leakage when she teamed up with Poise to create ads discussing the prevalence of incontinence. She said her goal was to end the stigma associated with this common issue.