Global figures indicate that one in four women and one in eight men suffer from bladder weakness. That’s about 9.5 million South Africans – yet many people are so embarrassed about having a bladder control problem they try to solve the problem on their own without seeking medical advice.

“Any involuntary leaking of urine from the bladder must be investigated,” comments incontinence specialist Dr Margaret Fockema. “There are so many options for dealing with the symptoms, depending on what’s causing them; and simple interventions like lifestyle changes and bladder training may be sufficient to sort out the problem,” she adds.

Alcohol and caffeine both act as a bladder stimulant, and drinking a lot of fluids, especially in a short period of time, will increase the amount of urine your bladder has to deal with. Foods and beverages that are high in spice, sugar and acid, such as citrus and tomatoes, can also irritate your bladder. Obesity can lead to bladder weakness, so maintaining a healthy weight is important. Also, the associated coughing from smoking can put pressure on the bladder.

Bladder control can often be improved by doing Kegel exercises. These exercises help to tighten and strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can improve the function of the urethra and rectal sphincter.

You should never try to stop the flow of urine, but when you perform Kegel exercises, you need to imagine the muscles you would use to do just that. To perform Kegel exercises, stand with your abdominal, thigh, and buttocks muscles relaxed. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of 10, then relax for the same time, and repeat 10 times, three times a day.

The beauty of Kegels is that you can do them anywhere – driving, queuing at the supermarket, or even sitting at your desk. And you can expect to see results in four to six weeks.

You may also need to use a custom-designed incontinence product to be able to enjoy your life confidently. Sanitary towels won’t help with the challenges that are most likely to worry you: leakage and odour control. The right products to use are bladder weakness-specific products, which come in a range of pantyliners and pads in different sizes and absorbencies as well as gender-specific protective underwear. You can wear protective underwear easily under everyday clothing without anyone knowing they are there. And they are easily available at pharmacies and supermarkets or online.

How do you find the TENA product that’s right for you?

Here are a few things to consider when choosing an incontinence product:

Look for a product that provides comfort and a good fit.

Finding the right fit will help you with skin protection, leakage protection, and comfort. Fit is dependent on your body size and shape – it is best to start with products designed specifically for your body type, and then try a few on for size.

Choose a product that offers the level of protection you need.

Absorbency is another important consideration. Try an absorbent pantyliner or pad that fits into your regular underwear if you experience light leakage. Opt for absorbent underwear for moderate-to-heavy leakage. You may need a lighter TENA product for the day and a heavier one at night.

Select a product that fits in with your lifestyle.

How much urine do you leak during your typical activities? If you have an active lifestyle, you need to choose a product that gives you enough protection during your favourite fitness activities. Are you always on the go? Opt for a product that can be changed easily and fits discreetly in your purse. If you’re away from home for long periods of time, choose a product with side tabs so that you can change it without removing your pants or shoes.

A sample of a product allows you to determine if the fit, comfort, and protection are right for your needs. To learn more about available products, and order your TENA sample visit For more information or advice on bladder weakness, call TENA on 087 359 1079 or shop online at