atalie Silverman – mum, health advocate and founder of the Fertility Podcast
“My leaks meant I couldn’t play active games with my son but Contrelle gave me back my bounce.”
Former radio presenter and health advocate Natalie Silverman founded the Fertility Podcast after struggling with fertility issues prior to successfully giving birth to her son seven years ago. But in the three years before his birth, and increasingly so afterwards, 44-year old Natalie has faced a different but still daunting challenge in the form of stress urinary incontinence.
“I first experienced the problem about 10 years ago. I’ve always enjoyed exercising – from doing Yoga to playing tennis – but in preparation for my wedding I really took it up a notch, including doing more running and working with a personal trainer who got me flipping over tyres and had me running circuits around a football pitch as well as doing some quite intensive repetitions. At the end of a session, I was mortified to find that I’d usually leak so I always had to wear something around my waist to hide what was happening.
“I was determined not to let this stop me getting on with my life, but things got significantly worse after my son was born, despite having a normal vaginal birth. When I confided in my mum she just told me it was genetic, so I thought: that’s that, I’ve just got to manage the best I can.”
“As well as most forms of exercise triggering my bladder leaks, I began to find that things like sneezing, coughing or just laughing could cause me major embarrassment, and I’d feel so uncomfortable afterwards that I just wanted to get away from the situation and get changed.
“At this point I sought help from a specialist physiotherapist. Although I was already trying to maintain my pelvic floor strength through my Yoga, they recommended a phone app to help me ensure I was doing the actual pelvic floor exercises correctly. But every time the App pinged a reminder for me to do them I’d feel slightly nauseous; it made them into such a chore and as I wasn’t seeing any appreciable improvement with leaking as the weeks and months went by, it was actually having a de-motivating effect.
“I basically just carried on using pads, as well as specific underwear, and wearing some thing around my waist when I exercised, but I also had to give up high impact exercise altogether, such as Cross Fit, because I just couldn’t deal with the leak embarrassment and discomfort.
“My leaks were impacting pretty much all aspects of my life by now, but by far my greatest sadness was that I couldn’t get into energetic games with my very active son in the way that I desperately wanted to. If he asked me to play chase with him and there was any question of me needing the toilet, I’d have to say ‘no, mummy can’t do that right now’. Bouncing with him on the family trampoline was definitely a no-go for me.“Things came to a head earlier this year when we attended a big Jewish wedding over in Holland. There was an intense amount of energetic Israeli dancing and there was no question of me not taking part. The inevitable major leak left me mortified and put a literal dampener on what had been a very special event. I just said to myself; ‘this is so unfair; I’ve had enough.’
“I went online, which I’ve done many times before, thinking that drastic action, such as surgery might be needed. I don’t remember the exact question I typed into Google but whatever it was, a device called Contrelle Activgard popped up at the top of the search and I was immediately intrigued.
“I’d ruled out going to the GP, thinking it wasn’t serious enough to bother them with – a response that I now realise causes far too many women to continue suffering in silence. I also thought it would be expensive to do something radical and, post-pandemic, was it even a realistic option. But seeing the Contrelle sizing kit at such an accessible price, with its claims to stop leaks, I had
to give it a go.
“When the sizing kit arrived, I wasted no time in trying out Size 2 - which is the recommended starting point to find the best fit. I then did something I hadn’t done in a long time: I did 20 minutes of high impact exercise including jumping jacks and high knees, which I previously couldn’t have risked attempting.
“I couldn’t believe the result - no leaks – not a drop. I just felt complete joy – it was totally liberating. At last, I was in control again and it felt truly lifechanging. “There was, of course, one further and important test that I needed to do and only one way for
me, as a podcaster to give Contrelle the final seal (pardon the pun) of approval. So, mobile phone in hand, I clambered onto my son’s trampoline which I’d previously avoided, to see whether I could capture the moment of my jumping for joy - leak free! It was such a moment I had to share it with my online community and posted the video immediately.
“Finding Contrelle has been a complete game-changer for me. I don’t have to worry any more, which is such a relief. I’ve also found that using it regularly has positively impacted my pelvic muscle memory so I’m proud to say that I’ve even been OK on occasions when I don’t use it – like at a recent music festival when I was dancing around with my son on my shoulders.
“And when it comes to playtime with my son? Well, I’ve literally got my bounce back in more ways than one.” View Natalie’s ‘bouncing’ post here