It often begins during pregnancy, caused by stress or simple, daily activities. You laugh, sneeze, cough, run or jump and suddenly… your bladder unexpectedly leaks.
Yup. “Urinary Incontinence” is a polite, medically acceptable term for peeing your pants. And while it may seem like just another in a series of unpleasant bodily changes, if left unchecked, it can become a real problem.
UI is particularly prevalent during a woman’s third trimester because of the pressure the expanding uterus places on the bladder. Complicating matters are hormonal changes that make pelvic tissues and joints more elastic in anticipation of delivery. An unfortunate side effect of this development is less functional bladder support, which can allow urine to leak.
Embarrassing? Yes. Inconvenient? Definitely.
After childbirth, many women remain at risk, as the stress of delivery can result in weakened vaginal nerves or damaged pelvic muscles. Over time, urinary leakage can become persistent, especially during exercise. It can even become a nuisance during sexual intercourse. And while most women have a plan to lose weight after delivery, few are prepared to deal with the unexpected struggles of incontinence when they attempt to exercise after having a baby.
So what’s a girl to do?
The first and most important step is to talk to your doctor or physical therapist. Urinary Incontinence is much more common than you think. Millions of women have faced the same issue. And the good news is that with proper diagnosis and treatment, the symptoms are quite often reversible.
Diagnosis begins with a simple exam to determine the cause of incontinence. Manual biofeedback can clarify which muscles and nerves have been compromised. Then, once the problem has been identified, the most effective approach to recovery is often Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy – a behavioral treatment regimen that retrains the body’s complex, but powerful internal muscles through a series of exercises. These Pelvic Floor Exercises, commonly known as “Kegels”, strengthen and integrate the muscles that support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum.
One problem is that most patients perform the exercises incorrectly. By working with a trained Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, you can master a series of simple exercises and educate yourself as to how to maintain muscular function and avoid further injury.
By changing some basic behaviors and learning the proper techniques, you too can overcome Urinary Incontinence. Consulting with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist can help you regain control of your bladder… and your life.