Every so often I’m sent a question that’s a tad beyond what I cover when it comes to Sex Ed. Such was the case when I received an email from a viewer who had recently given birth and was struggling with incontinence and ‘lack of feeling’ during intercourse, part of the email read:
“I gave birth to my son 6 months ago and have had problems with leaking (urine) ever since. It happens when I sneeze, cough, lift him, or lift anything for that matter. I know this isn’t what you cover since it’s not sex related, but I was wondering if there was something you could suggest to help me. I’m very comfortable with my body and sexuality but this has left me totally embarrassed and I haven’t wanted to have sex with my partner because of it. I’m terrified I’ll leak while we’re doing it. Even worse, every time we have had sex (which isn’t often) it doesn’t feel like it used to, and yes I know giving birth will stretch a woman out, but I’m scared it will never feel the same again. Is there anything you could suggest, for either issue? I’d really appreciate your help“
*names and the email in its entirety have been left out to protect the privacy of the viewer/reader.
This sent me on a hunt to see if there was anything on the market specifically designed for women struggling with incontinence, and that’s where my amazing partner came in. While talking with him about the email and my frustration in regard to finding a product that meshed what I did with her question, he suggested I get in contact with the amazing folks over at Bescot Health, who he just so happened to know. I know, it’s a small, small world.
After exchanging a few emails, inquiring about the products, and finally meeting in person so I could get a full understanding of how everything worked, I got my hands on the book Hold It Sister, IncoStress a pelvic floor strengthener that’s specifically designed to help control incontinence, and fertility lubricant Zestica (which just got approved by Health Canada), all of which I’ve been highly impressed by.
With these products in mind, today’s review will cover both the book Hold It Sister and IncoStress since they work hand in hand, with one providing the necessary information a person would need to learn about the pelvic floor/incontinence, and the other offering a way to potentially help deal with the symptoms of stress incontinence.
Hold It Sister by Mary O’Dwyer
Before I begin the review let me stress that this isn’t a ‘sex manual’, nor is it a book that focuses on the sexual aspect of things (though it does contain a few pages specifically dedicated to that topic). Instead, it’s a fairly to the point how-to guide designed to help the reader manage and control pelvic floor dysfunction in a way that’s simple and easy to employ.
*hint: don’t do your kegel exercises while sitting, you’re likely in the ‘slump’ position which lets the outer stomach muscles take over.
As for the content, while all of the information within the book was stuff I already knew, I still found it to be a great resource, especially for those who have no clue about their bodies or how it works. Not only is is easy to follow and a very quick read (I had it done in about an hour and a half), chock full of statistics, web links, tips, advice and case studies to help the reader understand that what they are experiencing is nothing to be ashamed of, it also has a list of well researched references listed in the back should one choose to follow up, as well as containing just enough pictures to help create an idea of what’s going on internally, allowing a full understanding of the changes that need to be made in order to help strengthen the area.
As for the books claims to help the reader understand how the pelvic floor works, recover control after childbirth or pelvic surgery, gain improved sexual sensation and orgasm, learn the harmful habits to avoid, and understand how to safely exercise and prevent pelvic floor damage, it comes through without sounding preachy or dumbing the information down. On top of that, it’s not wordy, or written in a ‘text book’ style, instead having a voice that’s more like a concerned, but well informed Aunt, one that’s also very understanding and compassionate.
The author, Mary O’Dwyer, is an Australian Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist with more than 30 years clinical and teaching experience.
For the most part I have no complaints, however I did find the book to be fairly repetitive,
feeling the need to stress the same baseline info over and over in an attempt to brainwash the reader into making a positive change, but for those that like to skip chapters or only read what they feel specifically applies to them, nothing will be missed.
All in all I found it to be a pretty decent read with an empowering and encouraging method of delivery, I just don’t think it’s information that will pertain to everyone, even though it’s full of tips that any female would benefit from.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (with a deduction due to the repetition)
When it comes to products like Duotone balls, Ben Wa Balls and/or other pelvic floor exercisers, you’ll likely find quite a few similarities, ones that could make differentiating or choosing a bit overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that they don’t really do much when it comes to helping with incontinence symptoms. Fortunately IncoStress was created with a whole other concept in mind, and although it could be used as a pelvic floor exerciser, it’s much better at stopping leaking then any of the above mentioned products.
The box (pictured left) is professional, respectful, and free of any tacky images or otherwise questionable content, with the back stating the benefits and features of the product. There’s nothing on it that could cause embarrassment, except for the mention of ‘stress incontinence’ of course. Considering it’s not meant for sexual purposes everything was exactly as expected.
Regarding the actual product, you’re looking at just under 4′ inches in length (including the “tail” or removal cord), 3 1/4″ inches in circumference and 1″ inch diameter. The high quality silicone is mostly transparent, matte and smooth with a slight amount of squish or give, while the removal cord (or “tail) is highly flexible and fairly stretchy. There are three ridges or ‘bulbs’ that run the length of the body, all designed to help support the urethra and stop accidental leaking. Like the vast majority of products I review, it’s hypo-allergenic, hygienic, latex and phthalate free, odourless, tasteless, while also being easy to care for and clean.
When it comes to insertion, the process is fairly simple; just apply a bit of water based lube, relax and gently push it upwards into the vaginal canal (if you’ve inserted a tampon before, this should be very familiar). Because it’s so light (I don’t know the actual weight) it’s very comfortable once inserted, offering little to no shifting, jabbing or painful pressure. Depending on your body and level of pelvic control it may slip out of place, if that’s the case try wearing it for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 in the evening for a week then increase by 5 minutes every week until you are comfortable with it. Removal is likewise simple; just grasp the removal cord and in a slow/gentle motion pull until it slides out of the vagina (I say gently because it is stretchy and therefore may *snap* back and hurt you).
As for how it works, IncoStress was primarily designed to control stress incontinence by offering support to the urethera and bladder neck, while also restoring the anatomical position of the bladder… that way if you accidentally or intentionally put pressure on your abdomen (like when you cough, sneeze, push, laugh or flex), the placement of IncoStress will to stop your body from involuntarily leaking (pictured below).
Care and Cleaning
Because it’s made of silicone I would only suggest a good water based lube as a silicone or oil based may ruin it over time.
When it comes to cleaning you can wash it with anti-bacterial soap and water or boil it for 3 minutes. Just keep in mind that because it’s made of medical grade silicone it’s not going to be porous and therefor won’t absorb any bodily fluids, lube or bacteria.
Fortunately I didn’t really have any complaints about the product, other than the fact that it attracts lint and may *snap* back if you’re not careful.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I know many of you probably read this and thought“…but this doesn’t apply to me” and I’ll admit, you’re probably right… shit, that’s what I thought (and still think to some point). But after reading the book I came to realize that there will likely come a day, whether it’s during the later phases of life, when I’m pregnant, have just given birth or otherwise, when this information or product could come in handy. And maybe it’s just me but I figure it’s better to be in the know and practicing for later, than accidentally leaking when I least expect it.
As for those that are experiencing stress incontinence and reading this for a potential solution or means of gaining some insight or help, just remember you’re not alone, it’s perfectly ‘normal’ and there are some great body safe products on the market specifically designed to help with your needs.
For more info or to purchase Hold It Sister or IncoStress head over to the Bescot Health website.