Cynthia MacGregor started experiencing light bladder leakage a few years ago. But the Florida resident refuses to let it get in the way of life. Here’s how she copes with light incontinence, a condition that affects 30 per cent of women over 60.
Laugh about it
Cynthia MacGregor never suppresses a laugh. Some women who experience light bladder leakage would avoid situations where a burst of giggles could put them at risk for an embarrassing situation. But not MacGregor, who calls herself the “luckiest woman in the world” because she loves her work as a freelance writer and the weather where she lives in Palm Springs, Florida.
“I don’t let it get in my way, and I certainly don’t let it stop me from laughing,” says the 69-year-old.
MacGregor was already wearing washable, reusable panties when she started to experience light bladder leakage a few years ago. Radiation treatment for cancer put her into early menopause in her 30s and left her with bowel problems that made incontinence panties a necessity.
At first she could only find panties with bright colours on them that made her feel juvenile. The only other option was “old lady” panties, but those were “demoralizing.” That was when MacGregor’s mother came to the rescue. She found a brand that came in an array of colours, including lace and black, and MacGregor has been wearing them ever since. “They’re very discreet. I even sleep in them,” she says.
A side effect of aging
MacGregor finds she has to change her panties two to three times a day, and she’s more at risk for bladder leakage during the night than in the daytime. While women can experience light bladder leakage for many reasons, MacGregor thinks the reason she does is simple: age.
Her gynecologist recommended Kegel exercises, which involves tightening and releasing the pelvic floor muscles, but they didn’t work for MacGregor. The only other option is surgery, but MacGregor says her condition isn’t bad enough for her to take such measures.
A strong support system
MacGregor prefers to look on the bright side, and she even jokes with her girlfriends about it. If she’s in a social situation and someone lets out a big laugh, MacGregor won’t hesitate to jokingly recommend that they change their panties.
“I think my friends appreciate my candor on a number of subjects. Why not this one too?”
She doesn’t let it get in the way of her relationship either. She lives with a man, and he’s well aware of the issue but is supportive and not judgmental.
Even a potentially embarrassing situation recently didn’t faze him, says MacGregor. One morning she woke up, and not only was she wet, the bed was too. He was still sleeping, so she grabbed the closest thing — a beach poncho — and put it over the wet spot in case he rolled over. When he didn’t bring it up later that day, she mentioned what happened, and they both laughed about it. “It’s never an issue or problem,” she says.
Situations like that don’t happen very often, and MacGregor refuses to change her life or restrict her fluid intake because of it. “If I’m thirsty, I drink. I don’t think it’s healthy to deprive the body of water. I think that’s more important than worrying about urinary leakage.”