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Why MS Can Be a Real Pain in the… Bladder

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the skeleton in the closet, the uncomfortable secret so many people living with MS keep: incontinence.

Everyone knows bladder challenges are common for those living with MS, but we rarely dare to speak of them. We often see this as a private problem, a taboo subject only mentioned when absolutely necessary. Even then, we would rather not have the conversation. Most other symptoms of MS can be brought up in a discussion, but not this one. We don’t talk about bladder dysfunction.

Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to talk about your bladder, because you’re not alone.

The bladder is an organ like all others. We don’t have issues talking about our hearts or our brains. People living with MS should not be afraid, embarrassed or shy to discuss the bladder. It’s an unfair burden for us to feel that we are on our own, living in misery and discomfort.

While family, friends and caregivers may see the side effects of our bladder dysfunction, they may not know how common this symptom actually is. You can start by sharing that 80% of people with MS experience some bladder dysfunction and 68% of people with MS experience bowel dysfunction.

But there is good news out there! There are many ways to help manage incontinence, such as absorbent and noninvasive products, many of which are completely inconspicuous. Talk to your medical professional about these options, as well as medical procedures (i.e. catheterization or self-catheterization) that may be appropriate for you, and remember, above all else: the first step to getting help with bladder dysfunction is to ask for it.

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