Urinary Leakage: A Laughing Matter? Or Maybe Not

It’s International Continence Society World Continence Week 2014 (June 23rd to 29th) which means it’s time for a little potty talk.incontinence stopped

  • Do you ever worry about laughing too hard in fear of leaking a little?
  • Have you started skipping or modifying your workouts because you’re sick of peeing your pants?
  • Are you scared to get on a trampoline because it’s too much for your bladder to handle?
  • Are you often exhausted in the morning from being awoken with the urge to go?
  • Do you have a detailed map of every bathroom and an exit strategy in place every time you leave the house?
  • Is your boss on your tail for being in the bathroom every 30 minutes?

If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you may being dealing with a very common problem called urinary incontinence. Often women make comments such as, “Oh I had kids, it’s normal to leak a little pee when I sneeze.”

But it’s not normal.

Normal is having to pee every two to four hours, not twenty times a day. Normal is not avoiding activities and fun nights out because you’re worried that if you move too much or laugh too hard you might pee your pants.

Why is this Happening to Me?

Rest assured that it’s 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, along with the rest of your pelvic organs, is held up by a group of muscles called the pelvic floor. When these muscles don’t work properly, it’s called pelvic floor dysfunction, which can lead to a slew of problems, a major one being urinary leakage.

One of the most common causes of incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction is pelvic floor muscle weakness, which can be caused by pregnancy and childbirth, surgery and other medical problems, poor posture and bad habits, changes due to menopause, and a lack of exercise.

It could even be due to a lack of muscle coordination and improper breathing. In this case, a woman has a strong pelvic floor, but she doesn’t coordinate her muscles and breathing properly, especially during activities such as exercise and heavy lifting. This lack of coordination leads to an increase in the amount of pressure and force inside the abdomen (intraabdominal pressure) and puts enough force to cause leaking.

Another cause of incontinence is damage to the pelvic floor. Events such as childbirth, cancer or radiation result in physical damage such as scarring or tearing to the muscles, nerves and surrounding tissue.

What can I do about Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Incontinence?

It’s time to take control of your floor. A great place to start is filling out a bladder diary. This tool will help you take a deeper look at your voiding habits, and help you see what’s really going on. You’ll record how frequently you’re going, whether you are going at night, whether and when you have any leakage, and your fluid intake.

Once you understand what’s going on with your body, you can take charge with targeted exercise.

A physical therapist trained in pelvic floor dysfunction can do an 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 make your pelvic floor stronger, how to properly perform what many women know as “kegels” (believe it or not, most women do these exercises wrong), and how to coordinate your pelvic floor with other muscles. They can use highly effective training tools such as biofeedback and instruct you in the best breathing techniques to decrease intraabdominal pressure, improve your posture and kick bad habits. They may also implement skilled hands on techniques to improve the mobility of your pelvic floor and surrounding muscles and joints.

With a little work and commitment, you can once again enjoy all your favorite activities without fear of leakage.

The women physical therapists at Ella Health have expertise in helping women overcome pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence. We use an advanced biofeedback  system called VESy lab, which stands for video EMG synchronization. This is a wireless system that allows physical therapists to evaluate the effectiveness of exercises for individual patients and create an effective, targeted routine. Ella Health Physical Therapy is available in Westport and is coming soon to San Francisco, CA; San Antonio, TX; and Chicago, IL.

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