Let’s face it ladies, we’re pretty awesome. I mean, we have the capability of growing a human inside of us! But…”with great power comes great responsibility”, right?
One of the biggest misunderstandings that our team encounters daily is the notion that once you have a child (or 2 or 3 or 4), it’s ‘normal’ to leak when you
laugh/cough/sneeze/run/jump. Well, we’ll let you in on a little a secret: IT IS NEVER NORMAL TO LEAK!! Even if you haven’t had children, leaking is not something you have to ‘learn to live with’.
“If every time you went for a run, fluid came out of your ear, you’d go get that checked, wouldn’t you?” – Kristen Parise, Owner of Blueberry Therapy
I think because, as women, we’re used to things coming out of our vagina (our periods, discharge, babies - what else do you have hiding up there?), we tend to normalize it. Also, let’s be real, it’s kind of an embarrassing topic to discuss, which is yet another reason why we may shy away from seeking help.
Urinary incontinence, the loss of bladder control, is a common and often
embarrassing problem. The severity ranges from occasionally leaking urine when you cough or sneeze to having an urge to urinate that's so sudden and strong you don't get to a toilet in time.
Though it occurs more often as people age, urinary incontinence isn't an inevitable consequence of aging. If urinary incontinence affects your daily activities, don't hesitate to see your doctor or pelvic health physiotherapist. The First-Line of defense against incontinence has been shown to be pelvic health physiotherapy.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
- Stress incontinence: Urine leaks when you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy.
- Urge incontinence: You have a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. You may need to urinate often, including throughout the night. Urge incontinence may be caused by a minor condition, such as infection, or a more-severe condition such as a neurologic disorder or diabetes.
- Overflow incontinence: You experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to a bladder that doesn't empty completely.
- Mixed incontinence: You experience more than one type of urinary incontinence.
When To Seek Help
You may feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence, but it’s important to note that research shows incontinence affects up to 50% of all women and, through pelvic health physiotherapy, effective treatment can be had.
If incontinence is frequent or is affecting your quality of life, it's important to seek help before it starts to impact your daily activities and social interactions.
Causes of Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence isn't a disease, it's a symptom. It can be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions or physical problems. A thorough evaluation by a pelvic health physiotherapist can help determine what's behind your incontinence. Some common causes include:
- Certain drinks, foods and medications may act as diuretics — stimulating your bladder and increasing your volume of urine.
- Easily treatable medical condition, such as UTI, that can irritate your bladder, causing you to have strong urges to urinate, and sometimes incontinence.
- Constipation: Since the rectum is located near the bladder and shares many of the same nerves, hard, compacted stool in your rectum causes these nerves to become overactive and increases urinary frequency.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes and the increased weight of the fetus can lead to stress incontinence.
- Childbirth: Vaginal delivery can weaken muscles needed for bladder control and also damage bladder nerves and supportive tissue, leading to a dropped (prolapsed) pelvic floor.
- Aging of the bladder muscle can decrease the bladder's capacity to store urine.
- Menopause: After menopause women produce less estrogen, a hormone that helps keep the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy.
- Obstruction: A tumor or urinary stone anywhere along your urinary tract can block the normal flow of urine, leading to overflow incontinence.
- Neurological disorders, such as Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, a stroke, a brain tumor or a spinal injury can interfere with nerve signals involved in bladder control, causing urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence isn't always preventable. However, to help decrease your risk:
- See a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist to determine the best exercises for you
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid bladder irritants, such as caffeine, alcohol and acidic foods
- Eat more fiber, which can prevent constipation, a cause of urinary incontinence
- Don't smoke, or seek help to quit smoking