Real Housewives of Orange County fans have watched Shannon Beador go through a messy divorce, sudden weight gain, and endless drama with Kelly Dodd, but one thing she's kept private until now: a long battle with a leaky bladder.
"I've spent 18 years experiencing symptoms, and now it's gotten worse because I'm 55 years old and going through menopause," Beador tells Prevention.com. "I soon discovered that basic movements like running to another room were now difficult."
Beador began experiencing random, uncontrollable urges to urinate when she was 37, after giving birth to her first child, and was later diagnosed with a medical condition known as urinary incontinence or leaky bladder. "It's as easy as me jumping up and down saying 'touchdown!' when I'm at a college football game, because that just happened," she says.
Urinary incontinence occurs in one in three women and can develop as a result of stress, pregnancy, obesity, or simply aging, says Dr. Ruth Maher, PT, PhD, DPT, co-inventor of INNOVO and professor of physical therapy at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Leaky bladder prevents you from being able to control your urination and can (for obvious reasons) be embarrassing when it happens in public.
Fortunately, Beador has found ways to manage her symptoms and is speaking out about coping with age-related changes that most women experience, like leaky bladder, weight gain, and menopause. And, yes, she's absolutely living her best life after overcoming a traumatic divorce and shedding the 40 pounds of extra weight she gained as a result. Here's how:
1. She strengthens her pelvic muscles.
Beador has been using a new pelvic floor device called INNOVO, a pair of comfy biker shorts that help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
When we cough, sneeze, or jump up and down, this causes stress on the bladder. If the pelvic muscles are weakened from, say, childbirth, then any of these movements can cause leakage. Incontinence can also occur when pelvic contractions aren't in sync, so you may start to urinate before you're prepared.
"INNOVO uses eight electrodes embedded in the biker shorts to hit the nerves on the pelvic floor and minimize pelvic fatigue," Dr. Maher says. "It reproduces certain contraction patterns to improve the coordination of the pelvic muscles."
Beador says she's looked into other methods like surgery to help in the past, but "I wasn't willing to take certain risks that were involved," she says, emphasizing that she stuck to "various pads on a daily basis" to manage her symptoms instead.
Ilya S. SavenokGetty Images
INNOVO is the first non-invasive, transcutaneous electrical stimulation continence device to be cleared by the FDA, after 93% of patients in a randomized controlled trial experienced improvement of symptoms in just four weeks.
And the device can actually cure incontinence in women, if worn consistently each day for 30 minutes a day, Dr. Maher says. It runs for about $449, and you must get it through your healthcare provider, though she says the company is working to provide it OTC.
"When you put the shorts on, you can actually feel the stimulation to the pelvic floor," Beador says. "I've been using it for a few weeks, and I absolutely feel the machine doing its work."
2. She wears black pants.
Like many women with incontinence, Beador has felt held back in life. "I've been so limited because of this," she says. "I wasn't able to chase after my young children in the park. I couldn't play tennis on family vacations. I was unable to do certain exercises that would have been helpful in my weight loss. The list goes on and on."
She recalls one embarrassing moment with her family: "I took my kids to a rap festival and I didn't want to use the Port-A-Potty, and we're walking to the car and all the sudden it's in front of my kids. And they're like, 'Mom what did you just do!'"
To help, she says she now wears black pants all the time. "And I have to make sure there's a bathroom nearby, just in case," she says. "You laugh after the fact, but you are not laughing when it's happening. You're devastated."
Dating, in particular, has caused Beador added stress. "I do not want to have an episode when out on a date," she says. "It has unfortunately happened a couple times, and I am just grateful that I have a device that [will hopefully] fix the problem…and also grateful that I am dating someone that is very compassionate."
3. She puts her health first.
In 2017, Beador went through a messy divorce, and her mental and physical health "spiraled downward," leading her to gain 40 pounds in one year.
"Right after the renewal of my vows, something just left, and I'd ask [my then husband] 'What's happening?' and 'Why is there a disconnect all of the sudden?' And I just slowly spiraled. I drank more, and I ate more," she says. "And when you see yourself put pounds on so quickly, I would look at myself in the mirror and I couldn't even recognize myself."
Beador said she went through cycles of self-sabotage: "I would lose weight and think 'OK, now I can eat whatever I want!' It was a constant roller coaster, and last year before we started filming I said, 'Enough excuses, Shannon, you need to do it.'"
"When I made the decision of enough is enough, I was in such a good space emotionally, and it was evidence to me that weight gain is not only physical, it's emotional as well," she says. "So once I was able to let go of the mental anguish I was experiencing, the weight fell off faster."
The RHOC star began working with a trainer and walking up the large, rolling hills of her California neighborhood every day. She also began paying attention to her diet.
"It's what you put into your body," she says. "I don't like to eat the cardboard stuff." Beador has her own healthy food line called Real for Real Cuisine that she's expanding in 2020. "In January I'm coming up with eight individual, family-style meals that are under 500 calories."
"They're all good meals with sauces on them," she says. "You can eat healthy and have a sauce, you don't have to deprive yourself! You just have to make some choices and have balance."
4. She avoids running...but her goal is to start.
Beador says there've been other cast members on RHOC who have had issues with incontinence, but they haven't been caught on camera. One of hers, though, did air during her second season of the show.
"Tamra had an exercise class and everyone had to run, and I said 'I can't run!' because 18 years ago when I delivered my first child, that was it for me," she says. "Certain exercises I just have to stop. Even walking too fast on a treadmill, I'm not able to do it."
But with INNOVO, she hopes she can strengthen her pelvic floor muscles enough to be able to exercise as she pleases. "When I put the shorts on, I can feel the stimulation to the pelvic floor," she says. "I have stepped up my exercise game to test things out. I'm very excited and encouraged."
As season 14 of Real Housewives of Orange County wraps up, Beador promises "fun Shannon" is here to stay. "There was so much drama that I left filming wondering, what are they even going to cut out?" she says. "I'm in a little bit of drama here and there, but nothing compared to last season. You won't see me sitting next to Andy Cohen at the reunion. Fun Shannon is fun until the end!"
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RHOC's Shannon Beador Says a Leaky Bladder Has "Devastated" Her for 18 Years, Source:https://www.prevention.com/health/a29442048/shannon-beador-leaky-bladder/