As I stated in previous columns, studies show that 80 percent of us gals have trouble with incontinence at some point in our lives. However, just because it is common, does not mean it’s normal. Let’s continue the conversation.
So you’ve been doing your kegels, keeping track of your intake and output, making sure you’re not going “just in case” and you’re still leaking. (Hey, if this stuff was easy, I wouldn’t have a job!)
I have been saving some things to tell you that you might not want to hear. You might have to give up coffee. Or wine ...
GOING COLD TURKEY
Or not. I often tell my patients that this is your life. It is you who decides what goes into your body, and it is also you who decides what sacrifices, disciplines and other things are “worth it.” Going cold turkey on the things that irritate your bladder may be what works best for you.
You may be so sick of leaking that, if it resolves your incontinence, you are willing to never have another cup of coffee or glass of wine again. But if these are “a few of your favorite things” (thanks, Maria von Trapp) there are some other things you might try.
ADJUST YOUR COFFEE HABIT
When it comes to coffee:
• Try Toddy or cold brewed coffee. This method of brewing cuts the acidity by 67 percent, per the Toddy website claims. It has a really smooth, rich flavor and is nice because you make a coffee concentrate that allows you to heat up one mug (or five!) at a time. A home brew system such as this will set you back anywhere from $35 to $100, depending on what website you order from and how fancy you want to get. Several of the local coffee shops have cold brewed coffee on the menu so you can try before you invest in a system for home.
• Try low acid coffee. I live in Edwards and frequent the Village Market. I know the store carries at least one type of low acid coffee. Give it a try!
• Try switching to decaf coffee instead.
Another thing that works for a lot of people is dilution. Drink an 8 ounce glass of water for every cup of coffee or glass of wine, beer or cocktail. You may need to do more like a 2:1 ratio of water to coffee. Play around with it — your body will tell you when you get it right. I have had several patients tell me that they have started adding ice to their glass of wine and it has helped them.
DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
For some people, cutting down on frequency makes a big enough difference that they can still enjoy a beer on Friday night if they have avoided alcohol during the week. Some people decide to drink what they want to on occasion, knowing that they will need to stick pretty close to a bathroom the next day or may need to wear a thicker pad.
Basically it all comes down to “What is important to you?” If it’s another chardonnay, pad up and play on, sister!
Stephanie Drew is a physical therapist with Howard Head Sports Medicine in Edwards who specializes in women’s health, pelvic floor rehabilitation and orthopedics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.