As modern women, we’re lucky to live at a time when advances in science, technology and manufacturing have made living with bladder leaks so much more convenient. But one universal concern still lingers . . . literally. Despite the range of available options for controlling bladder leaks and preventing accidents, we still worry about odor.
For many of us, the risk—real or imagined—that leaks leave a detectable odor is so concerning that it limits our activities, affects our relationships, increases anxiety, makes us hypervigilant or causes us to overspend on products that promise to mask it. And that really doesn’t work for a variety of reasons.
Many manufacturers add a masking fragrance to incontinence liners, pads, underwear, wipes and surface protectors. While some people might find this pleasant, most realize that covering up an undesirable odor by introducing a more powerful scent does nothing to deodorize or eliminate the problem—or provide reassurance in social situations! It just adds an even more noticeable smell into the environment. These added perfumes and masking compounds also can cause skin irritation.
The good news is by understanding why pee smells and adopting some small behavioral changes, you can safely and naturally minimize odor and have a lot less to worry about!
According to Mayo Clinic, urine mainly consists of water. It’s the amount and concentration of various waste products excreted by the kidneys that cause urine odor. Urine with a lot of water and few waste products is pale yellow or clear and has little to no smell.
That said, there are a variety of things that can make your pee smell stronger. These include:
Less often, unusually smelly pee (and other changes in urine or in bladder habits) can be caused by other conditions such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), type 2 diabetes or kidney stones. In those cases, don’t wait. Go see the doctor!
Simple little habit changes can be key to not just eliminating odor from bladder leaks but also eliminating all that worry and social anxiety! Most of this advice you’ve probably heard before: in addition to eliminating coffee, carbonated drinks, spicy foods, alcohol and notoriously odor-causing foods like garlic and asparagus, you can reduce pee odor by making sure you stay hydrated.
Not drinking enough water can concentrate your urine and make the smell more potent. Six to eight glasses of water a day is still the recommendation. If that sounds like a lot to take in, the National Association for Continence offers these suggestions for making it easier to increase your water intake:
There are several different substances that can help actually neutralize and absorb odors, versus just covering them up. We’re partial to the odor-absorbing capabilities of baking soda— a naturally occurring substance that is present in all living things and helps maintain the pH balance necessary for life. Baking soda deodorizes by bringing both acidic and basic odor molecules into a neutral, more odor-free state, making it one of the best items you can use to eliminate bad smells.
When you buy disposable bladder-leak protection, look for products that are fragrance-free and contain no harsh chemicals. Read the package carefully. See if they feature some kind of odor-control technology or odor-reducing material and exactly what that means. Strong, man-made chemicals can cause a variety of problems, and synthetic perfumes contain a host of undisclosed ingredients that can lead to irritation and dermatological issues. So, odor control shouldn’t consist of a perfume or strong chemical compound, but something that actually prevents odor from developing in the first place.
Naturally, those of us with bladder control problems also need to be diligent with personal care and hygiene. If you pee unexpectedly, be sure to wash and dry yourself thoroughly and put on clean clothing. You may want to look for cleansers that are specially designed for women with incontinence. Typically, they are gentler and kinder to sensitive skin.
In the laundry, vinegar and baking soda are great to add into the wash to ensure your belongings smell fresh. Rely on a generous mattress protector—preferably one with extra-absorbent layers and built-in natural odor control—for a peaceful and more pleasant night’s sleep.
Finally, don’t forget the air around your home. It also deserves attention. Use an air freshener that neutralizes odors, not one that leaves a strong smell of perfume. Potpourri and incense, available in grocery stores, drug stores and card shops, will keep your house smelling fresh. If you prefer a more natural option, use an odor eliminating spray made with your favorite essential oils. Or if weather permits, open those windows to let the fresh air in and get it circulating.
You’ll soon enjoy the sweet smell of success when it comes to living with bladder leaks both odor and worry free!