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UTIs can be a bummer for a lot of reasons, but one side effect that can be particularly surprising—and unpleasant—is light bladder leakage. On top of everything else that’s going on with a UTI, sometimes your bladder decides to revolt, and you find yourself dribbling pee into your underwear before you can get to a bathroom. Fun, right? Luckily, there are ways to deal with this that let you keep living your life—that’s what we’re all about at Juno, a community for women who deal with all kinds of urinary incontinence to share their stories, seek advice, and learn.
Here’s what you need to know about temporary urinary incontinence.
It’s a pretty common symptom of a UTI—but it should be temporary
UTIs occur when bacteria infect and irritate the bladder. The bladder then sends confused signals to the brain, telling your body that you need to pee even when your bladder might not be full. Hence the frequent and strong urges that accompany a UTI. Sometimes they’re so intense that getting to a bathroom in time simply isn’t possible. Luckily, when the bacteria clear up, your bladder should go right back to normal.
But it’s important to pay attention to your incontinence. Is your pee accompanied by a burning sensation, a strong odor, or a sharp pelvic pain? If not, it might not be a UTI after all, but just plain old urinary incontinence (UI). And while you might associate UI with old people, the truth is that about 1 in 3 women experience it—and that includes young women! It’s especially common during pregnancy, and sometimes doesn’t go away. But even among those without a baby pressing down on their bladder, UI is more common than you may think. So if you’re not positive you have a UTI and you’re experiencing some leaks, you might want to chat with your primary care provider or OB-GYN. Knowing you have UI is the first step to managing it.
Women who get frequent UTIs are more likely to have incontinence
Studies show that women who get UTIs experience UI more often than women who don’t have UTIs. This is true whether or not they actually have a UTI at the time. It’s not clear whether one causes the other, or whether it’s just a correlation, but it’s safe to say that if you get UTIs a lot, you might be likely to get UI, too.
There are plenty of great solutions out there for UI
Whether you’re experiencing temporary incontinence during a UTI or experiencing UI in general, there are some really great products that will keep you dry and confident for as long as you need. From pads and liners, to disposable briefs, to absorbent cotton undies, to tampon-like bladder supports that keep your urethra shut, there’s something out there for every kind of body and every kind of leak. At Juno, we’ve put together a guide to some of our favorites.
One thing to note is that if you’re choosing disposable pads or liners, make sure to go for brands that are specifically designed for pee. You might be tempted to use the menstrual pads stashed in your cabinet, but that might not be such a great idea. Pads for periods and pads for UI are designed differently to handle the different liquids. Blood is obviously more viscous and comes out more slowly, while urine can whoosh out quickly and at higher volume. Plus, UI pads neutralize the chemicals in urine, which prevents infection and irritation.
Don’t let a little leakage ruin your day
UI doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. Women living with UI manage their symptoms and keep on exercising, socializing, working, and being great partners, moms, and friends. If you’re experiencing UI, remember that you’re definitely not alone—and feel free to talk about it! Odds are that one of your friends or family members is also dealing with it. And to learn more about UI, treatments, and products, and to read personal stories about UI experiences, head on over to Juno—we’d love to have you!
This article was contributed by Juno founder Chelsea Allison, who is building a safe space to start the conversation about how superstar women who experience UI deal with it. Check out hellojuno.co to join the community.