Bladder leaks associated with running or jumping are caused by weak or damaged muscles in our pelvic floor. Uresta, a great new product spearheaded by CEO Lauren Barker, inserts vaginally and provides support to those muscles to stop the leaks from occurring. “I always like to say it’s like an ankle brace, but for your bladder,” Barker says. As one in three women suffer from bladder leaks, and as we know this issue effects runners—so much so that Uresta is booth 108 at next month’s TCS Waterfront Marathon—we caught up with Barker and asked her to tell us what she, and her product, does.
iRun: What does Uresta do and why is it so important?
Lauren Barker: Uresta is a uniquely designed bladder support product that stops bladder leaks associated with coughing, sneezing, jumping, or running (basically anything that puts pressure on your bladder). These types of bladder leaks are caused by either weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles that work to keep your urethra closed during everyday activities.
iRun: So how does it work?
LB: Uresta inserts into the vagina and supports those muscles through the vaginal wall to stop leaks from occurring during those moments of extra pressure. It is does not, however, prevent you from urinating normally, meaning you don’t need to remove Uresta to go to the washroom and it can be left in all day. You can use it all day or just when you need it (like going for a run).
iRun: Can it be used more than once?
LB: Yes! Uresta is reusable and is simply removed in the evening and washed with soap and water.
iRun: So can you breakdown how it works once again?
LB: Uresta provides immediate relief and security from bladder leaks—this is very important because bladder leakage is a quality of life issue. This is a common issue, but it’s still embarrassing and causes women significant anxiety. I’ve been told by many women that their leaks hold them back socially, at work, from being physically active, to doing some of their favourite activities.
iRun: When did you realize there was a pain point in the market and Uresta was something real women need?
LB: I was first introduced to Uresta as an investment opportunity back when I was in finance. I was honestly blown away at how common the issue was and how there was nothing on the market that actually offered women a better quality of life (mainly just pads that absorb leaks).
iRun: What inspired you to join and run Uresta?
LB: I remember thinking… “okay, so I’m going to get older and have kids, and go from using a menstrual cup and NEVER using pads to possibly needing one every day.” That just seemed completely archaic to me and as if we were going back in time. The more that I learned about Uresta and the issue, I knew that Uresta had the potential to improve the lives of millions of women—and the reviews and testimonials we receive continue to validate this view.
iRun: Is this something that only effects moms?
LB: Nope. This is not just a mom issue—bladder leaks happen as we get older and our muscles weaken, as well as hormonal changes at time of menopause.
iRun: What does Uresta replace—pads? And how does that benefit women?
LB: Because Uresta is stopping the leaks from happening, you no longer need to use pads or leak-proof reusable underwear. Pads and leak-proof underwear can be uncomfortable as they are damp, carry odour, and cause rashes (not to mention anxiety provoking and confidence limiting). This is especially an issue for active women as sweat and sudden movement can cause chaffing and for pads to slip out of place. Pads also do nothing to actually address the issue. Uresta stops leaks and we are told by women they are more confident, happier, and healthier with Uresta.
iRun: What else can be done to help with this issue?
LB: We highly recommend pelvic floor physiotherapy in tandem with Uresta. Strengthening your pelvic floor can eliminate or improve your symptoms, as well as prevent them from worsening. However, it can take time and effort to see results and Uresta can provide immediate relief to leaks. Uresta also does NOT make your pelvic floor muscles any weaker by using it long-term.
iRun: Does the issue of leaks affect runners?
LB: This is not an issue that JUST impacts runners, it just tends to be more common with running. It is widely stated that stress incontinence (the type of leaks associated with movement like jumping or running) impacts 1 in 3 women after the age of 30 during exercise. However due to the pressure placed on the bladder during running, it can be as many as 50% of women after the age of 30. And for many women they may only experience leaks just during exercise due to the extra pressure.
iRun: That’s such a huge number.
LB: It is, and pads are even more un-ideal for women who are active due to chaffing and pads slipping out of place due to sweat. Also, while we highly recommend pelvic floor physiotherapy, it can sometimes be difficult to fully eliminate leaks caused by exercise through pelvic floor strengthening.
iRun: Is there anything a runner should know about using Uresta—the first big question on everyone’s mind will be: is it safe?
LB: I think women are often worried that Uresta isn’t going to be comfortable or that it might fall out. Uresta is very similar to a tampon in the sense that once you insert it you won’t even feel it – it should be out of sight and out of mind. We come in 5 different sizes to find your perfect level of support – when properly fitted Uresta should be:
- Stopping or reducing your leaks
- NOT preventing you from urinating normally
- Staying in place
- Comfortable and unnoticeable.
iRun: This is really cool and really important.
LB: Thanks, and remember: Uresta is also NOT just for running—it can be used all day or whenever you need a little extra support or security from leaks.
iRun: How do we know that it’s safe? Has this been tested? What has the response been?
LB: Uresta is very safe and has a significant amount of recognition in the medical community. We are first and foremost FDA and Health Canada cleared. We are also recommended by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada for the conservative care of urinary incontinence in women. We also have four completed clinical studies that were done independently of Uresta and support both our safety and our efficacy.
iRun: I know you finished a study last May that was published in the International Urogynecology Journal. What were the highlights?
LB: Thanks for asking. This was HUGE for us. Here’s some of what we learned.
- 97% of women experienced a reduction in their leaks, in which 83% described as a material reduction
- 90% continued to use Uresta after a 12 month period
- 94% would recommend Uresta to a friend
- 92% felt more confident in public
- 85% had already tried pelvic floor physiotherapy
iRun: Your company is female-led and your product is manufactured in Canada. Why is this so important to you?
LB: Two of our core values at Uresta are empathy and empowering women. As a female-run company we are acutely aware of the struggles women face in day to day life and I believe that allows us to relate to women on a much deeper level. It is not uncommon for us to send a free Uresta for compassion reasons to someone who can’t afford it or to extend our 30-day refund period for a women who needs to more time to see if Uresta is right for her.
iRun: What do you love about your job?
LB: At Uresta, our greatest wish is that women are empowered by Uresta to do whatever they want—whether that’s crushing a marathon, or a presentation at work, or playing with their kids. We feel that women are busy and have enough to worry about, and if we can remove one pesky problem in a day that makes us happy and continues to motivate us. We love receiving emails and notes from customers on how Uresta has positively impacted their lives—there is nothing more motivating to us!
iRun: And what about being a product made in Canada?
LB: In terms of manufacturing in Canada—safety and quality are incredibly important to us. Having our product manufactured close to home allows us to manage product quality and safety very closely. We are also very proud to be a Canadian business and hope to make Uresta a Canadian success story.
iRun: How can women purchase your product and give it a try?
LB: Uresta is available for purchase at www.uresta.com. We have a free online assessment tool to determine whether you are a candidate for Uresta. In the event that Uresta does not work for you, we do offer a 30 day refund period.
iRun: Like us, you have a booth at the TCS Waterfront Marathon on the weekend of October 16. What will runners visiting your booth see?
LB: We are having a special promotion for those attending the expo and looking to purchase. We will be there also to show you Uresta and answer any questions you may have. Plus, we will be having a surprise giveaway!
iRun: Can you also talk about why you’re targeting this demographic, female runners? Why is your product specifically a good product for us to use?
LB: A few different reasons. Women may consider pelvic floor physiotherapy to improve their incontinence (which we highly recommend doing). However, many women find that while they are able to eliminate their leaks associated with coughing or sneezing, but the pressure on the bladder caused by running is often so great that women aren’t able to fully eliminate their leaks during exercise with pelvic floor strengthening.
I also think active women are proactive about their health. They don’t want to be seen as old and they really don’t want something like a pesky bladder leaks holding them back in their everyday life. The alternatives—like pads, are also unideal for women (chaffing, odour, rashes, dampness). Also with runners you want to stay hydrated. I know many women who limit their liquid intake as a way of managing their bladder leaks. For active women and runners, this is not ideal or healthy (I mean generally not recommended, but especially not for runners). For some women, I’ve been told during a race they will stop and go to the washroom more frequently than they would like in order to manage their leaks, and as a result sacrificing their time.
We just want as many women as possible to try our products because we know that they work.