08/29/18

written by Brianna Flaherty

Body Banter

Apps For A Gladder Bladder

If you’re a longtime reader, you’ve already heard us wax poetic about BWOM, an app that guides you through pelvic health across significant life stages like pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, menopause, and beyond. Since there is, unofficially, an app for pretty much everything (does anybody remember YO?), I decided it was time to see what else is available in the app store for leaky bods. It took about 5 minutes for me to realize we still have a looong way to go in making accessible, effective, shame-free apps for pelvic health and bladder leaks. But *spoiler alert* I did find two apps worth taking for a test drive. Along the way I also identified two big red flags:

  • Apps that recommend kegels and kegels only. Contrary to popular medical myth, kegels aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to pelvic floor dysfunction. Apps that push you to opt for kegels are better left alone.
  • Apps that harp on hydration. There’s nothing wrong with upping your awareness around liquid intake, but apps like Pee & See that are focused solely on reminding you to hydrate (yes, that’s a thing) can actually worsen conditions like urge incontinence by encouraging you to pee more frequently than necessary.

Across all the options out there, bladder diary apps kept popping up, which raised a critical question for me.

What’s the point of a bladder diary?

In short, a bladder diary is a written record of every time you drink, and every time you empty your bladder (also called voiding) throughout the day. Why does keeping a diary matter? Lindsey, our pelvic health expert, explains that everyday, mundane experiences like going pee fall off our radar really easily. So easily, in fact, that it may take you months or years to realize that your trips to the bathroom have become more frequent, urgent, or unpredictable than they once were. Keeping a bladder diary--and revisiting it every six months or so--can help you identify whether any habits are changing over time. Regular diary entries can also help isolate triggers or times of day when pee starts to take a little too much precedence, and serve as a reliable record of how frequently (or infrequently!) you’re making a trip to the toilet. But if a bladder diary is just a written record of your toilet trips, why get an app? Going digital has more upsides than I realized.

Better bladder apps

Vesica

Visually, it won’t give you the warm & fuzzies like BWOM, but Vesica does provide a super organized, clean, and streamlined way to keep track of your ins and outs. The app’s design is based on the paper voiding diary that inspired the ICIQ (International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire), which is a long-winded way of saying that it’s more than credible. Of all the apps I investigated, Vesica is also the one that best balances a user-friendly interface with legitimately useful tools for tracking your bladder. With Vesica you can:

  • Catalogue every drink, including type and measurement
  • Document your output (including measured voiding, unexpected leaks, and those frustrating times when you just can’t get your bod to relax when you’re on the toilet)
  • Easily identify bladder sensations from a pre-set list, with options like “did not need to go, went just in case” and “had urgency but got to the toilet before leaking.”

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, autopilot diary to quickly record all your (intentional or accidental) bathroom breaks, this app is your new best friend. Bonus feature: you can export and email PDFs of your diary, so if you’re working with a pelvic floor therapist the app immediately streamlines your communication.

iUFlow

Unlike Vesica, iUFlow’s interface isn’t the most user-friendly, but in terms of utility this app has a lot to offer that you can’t get from a pen and paper. iUFlow helps you:

  • Record and measure liquid intake and output
  • Rate leaking or urgency
  • Set regular reminders to update your diary, a valuable feature if you’re someone who struggles to stay on top of entries on your own.

What distinguishes this from Vesica? The company that made iUFlow also sells a device to use along with the app, so you can get more accurate liquid measurements if precision is your thing. That said, plenty of people use the app without the device and say it meets or exceeds their needs for documenting their bod’s input and output.

Whether you opt for scribbling on scraps of paper or commit to using an app to keep track of your bod, a bladder diary in any form is a step toward understanding your body and your bladder that much better.

-Do you use any apps to keep track of your health?-

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