It’s often said, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. And who of us – women, children and men – hasn’t experienced the feeling of dread on a long journey when you realise the next service station is further away than your bladder can bear?
However, the notion of just “crossing your legs” is no laughing matter for women with a ‘weak bladder’ and can really put a dampener on days out.
That’s why the service stations across the UK have been promoting the Control your Choice campaign for the past 4 months, reaching out to women (in the privacy of toilet cubicles) who are finding that their stress urinary incontinence (or SUI) is bringing additional stress to long haul car journeys.
And, with the last long weekend of the great summer getaway looming, Trinity is helping to highlight this inspiring campaign along the nation’s highways!
The poignant posters first ‘hit’ washrooms at motorway services and major railway rail stations at the start of May half term, running through to early September (to coincide with the start of the new school year). The specially commissioned artwork has been designed to remind ladies that they are not alone and that they should not be suffering in silence as well as signposting them to a new information hub where they can seek advice and information about all treatment options for SUI.
SUI is a very common condition, affecting 1 in 3 women worldwide. But it can have a major impact on day-to-day life, affecting relationships, activities and overall well-being. One other sad side effect of SUI is that many women can find themselves avoiding travel, ducking out of long journeys and looking for excuses when it comes to booking family days out.
A survey, commissioned by the Control your Choice campaign*, revealed that four in ten women had admitted they ‘swerve’ certain activities for fear of accidental bladder leakage. These activities include exercise, running, socialising, changing into beachwear or visiting playgrounds or the increasingly popular trampoline parks.
So, here are some top tips for springing into action this Bank Holiday weekend and not letting leaks stop you from “laughing out loud” with your loved ones!
1. On days out or long car journeys, locate accessible toilets and take regular breaks – Whether you are heading to the park for the day, visiting a museum or embarking on a long car journey, then make sure you know where the nearest toilets are located. Knowing that you’ll be able to stop for toilet breaks as and when needed can help avoid embarrassing leaks and reduce stress about SUI.
2. Avoid activities that put too much pressure on your bladder – Many activities aimed at children such as trampoline parks, soft play areas and family fun runs, can put extra pressure on your bladder, resulting in occasional but embarrassing leaks. It is important to remember that holidays are really special times with your kids and you don’t want to miss out on making memories with them and so for many women this is the trigger for them to seek professional help from a GP or Physiotherapist.
However, if you are really worried and don’t want to miss out on all the holiday fun then be prepared and do ensure you carry a spare pair of pants and pads with you, just in case (although this is not a long term solution).
3. Speak to your GP about treatment options – Bulking agents are a minimally invasive treatment (which means no cutting of the patient’s tissue or skin) and are a safe and effective option which has been used for over 10 years across the NHS. Bulkamid® is regularly used to treat women and is a water-based gel that helps the bladder neck to close when needed to help prevent bladder leaks. It has an 80% success rate when used as a first-line treatment. Patients are usually pleasantly surprised by how quickly they are able to return to their normal routines following bladder bulking treatment and see an instant end to leaks!
4. Stay hydrated – Most women with SUI instinctively try drinking less to prevent the need to go to the toilet. However, dehydration concentrates your urine, irritating the sensitive lining of your bladder and making you feel like you need to ‘go’ more often, and alcohol and fizzy drinks can worsen the problem. Don’t cut down on the amount of fluid you drink in an attempt to avoid unwanted accidents, as you will be leaving yourself open to the dangers of dehydration and after a journey, this can be dangerous, triggering other health complications such as migraines and dizziness.
Don’t forget, you can stay hydrated with foods as well as fluids; watermelon, cucumbers, radishes and peppers are spring staples packed with water that give your bladder a break – particularly if packing a picnic for a long car or train trip.
* Fieldwork for the survey took place 1st – 4th December 2017, among 2,000 women, aged 18+