Facing the Fear of Bladder Leakage: An Interview with Dr. Marla Shapiro

by Holly Osterman

Dr. Marla ShapiroWe recently had an opportunity to chat with Dr. Marla Shapiro, medical expert and trusted guide to personal health and well-being, especially for women. Dr. Shapiro, while running her own family practice, is also a medical consultant, television show host, and columnist for The Globe and Mail. She is the recipient of the 2005 Media Award from the North American Menopause Society for her work in expanding the understanding of menopause. Her current focus is debunking the myths and misconceptions about bladder health as an expert for Always Discreet.

For those of our readers who aren’t familiar, what is a sensitive bladder and how does it impact our lives and relationships?

A sensitive bladder is the involuntary loss of urine, whether it’s a light leak after you sneeze or a heavier leak when you can’t get to the bathroom in time. While as many as one in three women experience bladder leaks, across all ages, many patients are reluctant to talk about it with their health care provider. The impact on women can range from affecting quality of life and psychological upset to anxiety and even depression. Many women will avoid participating in activities such as exercising and dancing, because they have bladder leaks when they least expect it. It impacts relationships and intimacy, and therefore emotional health, as women fear sudden ‘accidents’ and possible odor. This is why it’s important to use a product like new Always Discreet, which can help alleviate these kind of fears. Its innovative product technology provides incredible comfort, protection, discretion and odor control, in a full line of pads, liners and underwear, specifically made for bladder leak protection.

Most women have experienced bladder leaks at some point when coughing, sneezing or laughing. At what point does it become a medical concern and not just an “oops”?

This kind of bladder leak is called stress incontinence. While it’s more common in older women, it’s important to discuss this with your health care provider to rule out reversible or any serious underlying conditions. Also, your health care provider can offer you lifestyle tips, such as cutting back on caffeinated beverages and spicy foods, which might help as well as how to best to manage your symptoms.

Marla, you’re a physician, TV personality, author, columnist and now a spokesperson for Always Discreet. What can you tell us about your new role and how this product can change a woman’s life?

The most important thing I do, whether in the office or on national television, is to educate women and empower them to make the best and right choices when it comes to their health. While lifestyle changes, medication and, on occasion, surgery may be indicated in management of these urinary issues, many women will also need an absorbent product. Eight out of 10 women are not using the right protection when it comes to their sensitive bladders. Many women take years to be adequately diagnosed and treated and, in the interim, are often cutting back on their activities. It’s important to educate women on products that can help them stay active, like new Always Discreet for sensitive bladders, which offers amazing protection and neutralizes odors. Women want protection AND discretion, and Always Discreet is a product that answers this need. Partnership in education is what my role is about.

As women age, we begin to face new health challenges, including menopause and its laundry list of symptoms. How can we prepare ourselves, both physically and mentally, for what lies ahead?

Menopause is a great time to take charge of your health and lifestyle. It’s never too late to introduce a healthy diet and exercise into your daily routine. Menopause is a time of transition and change and it CAN be a doorway of opportunity to invest in yourself!

Weight gain is an issue for many women as we approach menopause. It’s also a contributor to increasing bladder leakage. What are the ways in which we can better manage our weight during this stage of our lives?

As we get older, we need less calories and more exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Of course this can be challenging! The best way to manage our weight is to think of our investment in a healthy lifestyle that will incorporate being active and making healthy food choices. Small steps towards change are important. Set small goals to begin with – baby steps if you will. Incorporate these changes so that you can sustain them over the long run.

Between your personal journey and your commitment to women’s health, you’ve inspired so many women to make wiser choices. Where do you find the time and motivation to continue making a difference?

I think it’s simple really – if you love what you do, you will find the time to do it! Balancing it all can be a challenge, but as I like to say: balance one ball at a time, remembering to put that ball down to balance the next ball. Be it family, work or personal investment, all these balls need attention. One of my favorite words is “mindful” – and I think that is how to approach balancing all the things we all do.

Visit Dr. Shapiro at her website and learn more about her new book, Life in the Balance.

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