Updated: Apr 5
By Alyssa Brunt, MScPT, BScKIN (HON)
Your girlfriend tells you a joke that makes you laugh so hard you pee your pants. You’ve laced up those new Nikes and are on your way to your first half marathon when you feel a little leakage. You’re battling a cold that’s got you coughing up a lung and moderately wetting yourself. You’re jumping on the trampoline with your kids when suddenly you feel a little dribble. Any of this sound familiar?
To all my laughers, sneezers, coughers, treadmill and pavement pushers, weight lifters, trampoliners, moms and non-moms… a little leakage is a sure sign that you have a pelvic floor dysfunction that needs some attention! But urine luck because pelvic floor physiotherapy is just what you’ve been searching for ☺
Urinary incontinence is the technical term for peeing when we don’t want to. Stress incontinence is specific to leaking pee when we bear down, strain, or exercise at a higher intensity. Just think sneeze + weak pelvic muscles = unwanted loss of urine. Like squeezing a tube of toothpaste without the lid on. We talk about stress incontinence so much that it seems to be the new norm! Some women will tell you that it’s just what happens after having children. Well ladies, guess again because however common it may be, stress incontinence is not normal. In fact, it couldn’t be a clearer sign of unbalance in the body.
One of the key functions of our pelvic floor muscles is to maintain continence- control when we pee and poop. Any time we laugh, cough, sneeze, lift something heavy or jump, we are increasing the pressure within our abdomen which pushes down on the bladder. Add in a pelvic floor muscle imbalance that normally counteracts that force and voila- we have opened the floodgates to unwanted leakage!
With stress incontinence, usually a small amount of leakage is lost but small or not, having that realization that you may or may not have just publicly peed yourself is embarrassing and NOT fun. I hate to rain on your parade ladies but women are at an increased risk of developing stress incontinence. That risk also increases for anyone who is over the age of 40, post-menopause, obese, pregnant, has had more than 1 child, experienced obstetric trauma, has or had a chronic cough or respiratory illness, and are repeatedly straining and lifting. Yikes, that’s a lot of risk factors!
So now comes my time to shine, my selling moment, the reason I’ve drawn your attention to the fact that yes, we uncontrollably leak urine at unwanted times. If you have leakage, pelvic floor physiotherapy should be the first thing you think of when you feel a little dribble. Research has shown that pelvic floor strengthening decreases the number of episodes, the amount of urine lost and increases overall quality of life. Through a combination of education and specific pelvic floor exercises, you can get back to doing the things you love without the worry of wetting yourself! Here are a few quick tips that you can help you in the short-term:
Avoid straining on the toilet: Sit down, relax, and go to the bathroom! Your body knows what it is doing, so trust it! Line the toilet lid with paper or practice deep breathing. Whatever it takes, just sit down and pee. Straining prevents us from peeing properly and you may find you pee more frequently because you haven’t completely emptied the tank.
Keep drinking water: Reducing the amount of water you drink to avoid an episode of leakage will NOT help the problem. The ureters (those tubes from the kidneys) continuously bring urine into the bladder, no matter how much water we drink. Drinking less water will result in more concentrated, dark yellow urine which irritates the lining of the bladder.
The Knack: To limit how much you leak, activate your pelvic floor muscles (yes, Kegels!) just before you cough, sneeze, laugh, jump or lift. By activating the muscles, you help to counter the force of the abdominals pushing on the bladder and keep the ureters closed so no pee comes rushing out! But remember, pelvic floor physiotherapists can assist you in knowing if you are actually doing the exercises properly.
So say goodbye to pads, medications, and lack of confidence! Drink 2L of water and go jump on that trampoline with your kids! Run that half marathon you’ve been wanting to do for years. Laugh until tears run down your eyes and you’re gasping for air. Do the things you love without having to check for wet pants. Be confident, be bold, be beautiful ladies and don’t let a little muscle weakness stop you.
Itching, burning, pain, bleeding after sex, smelly discharge, yeast infections and UTIs are every woman’s nightmare. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then your vagina is not a happy camper. For more information, book an appointment with our pelvic floor physiotherapist, Alyssa Brunt today.
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