For Women - Bladder Incontinence While Running and Working Out
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
At about age 10, I discovered that I loved running. I would run laps around the clothes line in our suburban backyard and later, in middle school, joined the track team. I ran regularly in the Air Force, mostly on my own, but sometimes with my Army friends (the USAF didn't run in as squadrons at that time). After leaving the USAF, I fell away from running. I got busy with school, getting married, having kids, starting businesses, gardening. Running was put on the back burner, except for an occasional run here and there, so imagine my surprise when, in November 2019, just a couple weeks before my 50th birthday, I decided to get serious about running again only to find I had sprung a leak. Upon further research, urinary incontinence is a very common issue among women who have had children and/or are in menopause or peri-menopause.
The fixes mentioned online were less than ideal, ranging from surgery (yikes!) to pelvic floor stimulators, laser rejuvenation (very pricey!), disposable vaginal inserts (wasteful and likely not made from natural materials) which lift and support the urethra, kegel exercises (which worked years ago for my sneeze and cough incontinence, but not for the current running leaks), and of course, absorbent pads like Depends or incontinence pads from NatraCare. Of these options, inserts sounded like the way to go for me, but in consideration of the planet, I prefer not to use disposable products. With that in mind, I wondered if my Diva Cup (a small reusable, insertable silicone cup used in place of pads and tampons for menstrual flow) would work in place of the disposables.
The next day, I suited up for a morning run and inserted my Diva Cup (and put on a pad, just in case). I can happily report that I returned home from my 5K run completely dry! I have since run several more times with the cup and no longer feel the need to wear a pad "just in case." It's working beautifully. I remove it immediately after the run, wash it and it's ready to use for the next run. Please note (the prerequisite disclaimer) that this is not an intended use for the Diva Cup. I don't know if any issues can occur from using it in this manner (I have not experienced any negative effects). If you try it, do so with mindfulness and if you experience any negative effects, discontinue use. Consult with your physician if you have questions about using a menstrual cup for incontinence while running (or at other times).