Barbara Dehn, RN, MS, NP, FAANP, NCMP
Practicing Nurse Practitioner
San Francisco, CA
Barbara Dehn RN, MS, NP is a practicing Nurse Practitioner and a television health expert, who's known as Nurse Barb. She is passionate about health education, whether it's 1 on 1 with a patient, in a lecture hall at Stanford or with millions of people watching on television. Her warm and engaging personality puts everyone at ease as they learn more about health.
Nurse Barb is the award winning author of the Personal Guides to Health used by over 5 million women in the US, with titles ranging from fertility and pregnancy to menopause and breastfeeding. Active in Social Media, she contributes content to HealthyWomen, Huffington Post, NurseBarb, KevinMD and The Patch and amplifies her reach with an active and engaged Facebook following and 34,000 Twitter followers.
She is the author of The Hot Guide to a Cool Sexy Menopause, Nurse Barb's Guide to Breastfeeding and Nurse Barb's Guide to Pregnancy.
Barb earned a masters degree from UCSF and a BS from Boston College. She is certified by the North American Menopause Society and is a Fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Over the last 2 years, she has been an active participant in Global Health Initiatives at FAME Hospital in Karatu, Tanzania. Barb lives in the San Francisco Bay area.Full Bio
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I recently gave a talk to a group of about 75 women at midlife. When I asked for a show of hands for how many women experience urine leakage with a cough, sneeze or laugh—also know as stress urinary incontinence—about half raised their hands.
Yes, about a third to a half of us are having a little pee problem. Fear not! There's an app for that now too!
These apps (and other products and services) will help you deal with the problem. Most are designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, which means you'll be less likely to have problems with urine leakage.
When I ask my patients to do a Kegel or to try to squeeze their pelvic floor muscles, only about half can isolate and squeeze the right muscles. Many use their abdominal muscles, many push out and many simply don't recognize the sensation.
Once we work on how to do the exercises and the women start practicing, most report that their lives have changed for the better because they aren't leaking at all or nearly as much.
We're all busy, so here are some options to help you stay dry—and there's a surprising option at the end.
At-home Kegels—there's an app for that
For women who want to work on their pelvic floor muscles in the privacy of their own home, here are a few options:
Discreet vaginal inserts
Lightweight, small, discreet vaginal inserts use Bluetooth technology connected to your smartphone so you can see if you're doing your Kegels correctly. Really! They work to improve the pelvic floor muscle tone, help reduce leaking and, yes, all of this can help with sexual satisfaction. I've used and like both of these and recommend them to patients.
Elvie – This small, discreet probe also uses Bluetooth connectivity to provide direct feedback via your smartphone. It provides you with exercises you can do in the privacy of your own home. I love the color and the shape.
PeriCoach – This small probe has three sensors that use your smartphone to provide immediate feedback on the strength of your vaginal muscles. Then the app sets up a series of exercises tailored for you.
From the app store
Bwom – This is an actual app that you can download for less than a caramel macchiato: 99 cents to $3.99. Bwom provides a 12-week guided course with instructional videos, prompts and fun rewards. I love this app and so do my patients because it's a great way to get started on the path to less leaking.
Pee-proof underwear from Icon
If you're like many women, using a panty liner every day can become expensive and a hassle. Now, there are sexy—yes, sexy—undies designed to be highly absorbent, washable and discreet (no odor).
Icon – These were designed by women for women, and they're fabulous for light leaking. These are nice quality, sexy undies, and the colors will suit anyone.
Pelvic floor physical therapy
If you try the above and still need help, then find a hospital or clinic with the Total Control Program, which has been proven to help women regain their pelvic floor strength, have less leaking and sometimes eliminate the problem.
I send my patients to the group classes at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, California, where they have a comprehensive pelvic floor program for women of all ages. This is the only place in the Bay Area to offer the Total Control Program.
You can also search for a pelvic floor physical therapist for one-on-one exercises and training. You can use this excellent resource from the American Physical Therapy Association's Section on Women's Health to help locate a physical therapist near you.
Disclosure: I do not work with or for any of the products mentioned here.
This blog originally appeared on Nurse Barb's Daily Dose. Barb Dehn is a women's health nurse practitioner, award-winning author and nationally recognized health expert. She practices with Women Physicians in the Silicon Valley of California.