Running. Jumping. Dancing. Playing. It’s all fun and games until someone has a little leak. Likely no one else notices, but it’s embarrassing and a little confidence-crushing. Women with stress urinary incontinence are less likely to participate in physically straining activities such as running, jumping, dancing, or playing with the kids. These are the types of activities that remind us leakers that we don’t have as much control over our bodies as we’d like, which is incredibly disheartening.
What is a Pessary?
The good news is that there’s an insertable solution that might do the trick for you. It’s a pessary, and it’s a solution that has been around for a long time but seems to be relatively unknown, even in the medical community. For stress incontinence management, the device is inserted into the vagina to essentially push against the urethra preventing unwanted flow of urine when your pelvic floor muscles aren’t up to the task.
There are a variety of pessary styles that are designed for stress urinary incontinence management – a urinary gynecologist or pelvic floor specialist can make recommendations and custom fit the device that would work best for you. Most commonly used for stress incontinence are ring or dish pessaries. If your stress urinary incontinence is limited strictly to when you exercise, i.e.”exercise incontinence”, then a cube pessary might be your solution.
Pessaries are made of medical grade silicon and can be inserted either by a medical professional or by the individual using the device. Some, such as the cube, are designed to be inserted temporarily and removed readily, while others can stay in longer and may require medical assistance such as regular maintenance checkups. Whichever pessary is recommended, in general most women can learn to manage their pessary independently, without the need for recurring doctors appointments.
Pessaries are relatively inexpensive and non-invasive compared to other long term solutions such as surgery. They’re also re-usuable, which means you pay a one-time fee for the device, you’ll have it on hand when needed, and regular use means you’ll minimize waste created from disposable liners or pads because you won’t need to wear them. Plus, when inserted, a pessary will stop leaking altogether, which means you’ll have fewer ‘arghh’ moments of pause when you’re trying to focus on a sport or activity.
Keep in mind that pessaries only work when they’re inserted, which means they don’t guard against any unplanned stress – such as a sneeze or an impulsive laugh. However, if stress incontinence has been holding you back from activities you love, this may be just the solution you’re looking for.
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