In Australia, we’re healthy and we live an outdoorsy lifestyle. We’re also obese.. In 2014, The Lancet reported that a 63 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese.
There are well known side effects of obesity, such as infertility and heart conditions. But many people don’t realise that there is one common condition that is directly impacted by obesity.
That condition is light bladder leakage, or LBL, which impacts around one in three Australian women. If you have this issue, you are not alone – even celebrities like Kris Jenner struggle with it.
LBL is associated with weak pelvic floor muscles and can lead to some uncomfortable and awkward moments for sufferers. It is commonly experienced by women, particularly during pregnancy and after childbirth (which is the cause of 83 per cent of LBL for women).
But LBL affects women of all ages and stages. To avoid addressing the issue, many women experiencing LBL simply alter their lifestyle to avoid activities that trigger the condition rather than manage it effectively. They give up everything from situations where there may be spontaneous laughing, to vigorous exercise and activities that require bending, jumping or other sudden movements.
What many people don’t realise is the link between LBL and obesity. Research clearly shows that carrying excess weight exacerbates LBL. Even a five unit increase in your BMI can contribute as much as 60 – 100 per cent increase in bladder leakage issues.
The reason why increased weight contributes to LBL is because excess weight in the mid-section of the body puts extra pressure on your bladder. In combination with normal daily activities like laughing, sneezing or coughing, exercise or bending over, this increased pressure can lead to a lack of urinary control.
There is good news for sufferers of LBL who are also struggling with weight issues. A reduction in weight will also lead to a reduction in LBL. Steady weight loss, combined with positive changes including exercise, has been proven to reduce the prevalence of LBL.
There are other simple steps women can take to improve their bladder control (apart from taking regular toilet breaks), such as trying a core-strengthening exercise like Pilates, and learning to switch on your pelvic floor muscles when you’re doing daily things like sitting at the traffic lights or watching TV.
Thankfully there are also products designed specifically to help you to manage LBL effectively. These days, liners and pads specifically made for LBL sufferers are produced with a different technology than period liners or pads and they are much more absorbent to keep you protected. Phew.
Do you have LBL? How have you improved your symptoms?