Urinary Incontinence: A Laughing Matter...Or Maybe Not
According to the United States National Institute of Health (NIH) there are over 13 million cases of incontinence in the U.S. alone! This is a huge problem & means it’s time for a little potty talk!
Do You Ever…
…worry about laughing too hard in the fear of leaking a little pee?
…skip or modify your workouts because you’re sick of peeing your pants?
…fear getting on a trampoline with your kids because it’s too much for your bladder to handle?
…lose sleep because you wake up during the night with the urge to pee?
…create a detailed map of every bathroom and an exit strategy in place every time you leave the house?
…get yelled at by your family for stopping the car every 30 minutes to go to the bathroom?
If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you my friend may be dealing with a very common problem called urinary incontinence.
But It’s Normal, Right?
Often times women make comments such as, “oh I had kids, it’s normal to leak a little pee when I run” or “I make sure I go to the bathroom before I leave the house so I am less likely to pee my pants”. If any of these scenarios describe you or someone you know, I’m sorry to break it to you but this is NOT normal and can be a sign of urinary incontinence. It’s NORMAL to pee once every 2-4 hours, it’s NOT normal to pee 15 times a day. It’s NORMAL to be able to do the activities you love worry-free, it’s NOT normal to avoid running, jumping, lifting or a fun girls nights out because you’re worried if you move too much or laugh too hard you might pee your pants.
How and Why Does This Happen?
If this is hitting close to home you may be asking yourself, “why is this happening to me?”. This is not a freak accident, and you are certainly not alone. Urinary incontinence is a muscle issue that afflicts as many as 1 out of 3 women! The bladder (and the rest of your pelvic organs) are held up by a group of muscles called, the pelvic floor. When these muscles don’t work properly it’s called pelvic floor dysfunction and can lead to a slew of problems, a major one being urinary leakage.
Incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction can result from a number of reasons. The most common reason is pelvic floor muscle weakness, which can be caused by pregnancy & childbirth, surgery & other medical problems, poor posture & bad habits, changes due to menopause, and a lack of exercise. Another very common reason for women who develop incontinence is a lack of muscle coordination and improper breathing. In this incidence a woman (or even a man — yes, men have a pelvic floor too!) may actually have a strong pelvic floor, however, does not coordinate her (or his) muscles & breathing properly with activities such as exercise and heavy lifting. This lack of coordination can lead to an increase in the amount of pressure and force inside the abdomen (intraabdominal pressure) and put so much force on the pelvic floor that one can still end up leaking urine. One more cause of incontinence can be actual damage to the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor can go through events such as childbirth, surgery or cancer & radiation. These traumatic events can cause physical damage such as scarring or tearing to the muscles, nerves and surrounding tissue.
Good News…There IS a Solution!
There is good news ladies! These incontinence problems caused by pelvic floor dysfunction can be helped with the right women’s health/pelvic floor physical therapist and the willingness to work hard to overcome this leaky issue!
A physical therapist trained in pelvic floor dysfunction can do an external and/or internal assessment of your pelvic floor strength and integrity as well as a total body assessment of strength, mobility and function in order to find out exactly what is contributing to your pelvic floor dysfunction and come up with a plan to help you overcome it! These women’s health specialists can then teach you how to get your pelvic floor stronger, how to properly perform what many know as “Kegels” (which believe it or not, most people do this exercise wrong), how to coordinate your pelvic floor with other muscles, use highly effective training tools such as biofeedback, instruct you in the best breathing techniques to decrease intraabdominal pressure, how to improve your posture & kick bad habits, and they can also implement skilled hands on techniques to improve mobility of your pelvic floor and surrounding muscles & joints. Coordinating this type of work along with your fitness training program is essential to not only get the most out of your workout program but to once and for all address this leaky issue!
To Pee, Or Not To Pee…
So what now? If you are dealing with any of the issues we discussed it’s time to take control of your floor! One great place to start is filling out a bladder diary (http://www.continence.org.au/data/files/Factsheets/bladderdiary.pdf). This tool will help you take a deeper look at your voiding habits including how frequently you’re going, whether you are going at night, determine any leakage, and see how much and what kinds of fluids you are getting in your body. The next step is to find a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor and women’s health, a personal trainer for your pelvic floor if you will! If you are in the Connecticut/New York City metro area you can contact me for an in person appointment (Dr. Hnath) and I’d be happy to help you get back to living your life. If you are not, no worries! I also offer video based consultations, assessments and programs. You can also look up a women’s health specialist online on the American Physical Therapy Associate Section on Women’s Health website: http://www.womenshealthapta.org/pt-locator/.
Don’t wait, address this issue sooner than later and kick incontinence to the curb!
For any questions, comments or for more information you may contact Dr. Hnath at firstname.lastname@example.org