Written by: Ashley Wold, DPT, CAFS
I participated in a workout class and overheard two women talking to each other about leaking urine during the jumping jack warm-up. They laughed, they leaked, and they laughed more. Sadly, this is not an uncommon topic. I hear women talking about “leaking” all the time:
“I'm six months postpartum and feeling like the new norm is leaking urine. I leak when laughing, coughing, jumping, and bending over to lift the baby.”
“I plan my outings based on how much I've drunk and where the nearest bathroom is located.”
“I've stopped going to my favorite yoga class because I leak urine and am embarrassed.”
The list goes on but you catch my drift. These statements are from women who have been living with the idea that leaking urine is normal. I'm here to tell you, it's not.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is an involuntary leakage of urine. According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), urinary incontinence affects 25 million adult Americans. The NAFC also found that one in four women over age 18 experience episodes of urinary incontinence.
What are the symptoms of Urinary Incontinence?
The symptoms of urinary incontinence can range from leaking urine with physical activity, laughing, sneezing, coughing, etc. to having a sudden urge to urinate that is so strong that you may not make it to the bathroom in time. Some women can identify some common “urge” triggers including running water, pulling into the driveway, placing a key in the door, while others cannot.
Can you prevent Urinary Incontinence?
Yes! You should not leak urine at any age and there are solutions for you. Developing good bladder health includes staying hydrated, sitting versus hovering to urinate, avoiding emptying your bladder “just in case”, eating a balanced diet, and keeping surrounding muscles strong.
What is the treatment for Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is not a normal part of aging or a normal part of life. A physical therapist with specialized training in women's health can assist you in regaining control of your bladder so you can move better, live better, and return to activities you enjoy. Despite an excellent success rate, only 1 in 12 women seeks help for urinary incontinence.
Physical therapy for urinary incontinence may consist of exercises to improve stability, strength, and endurance of the pelvic floor, hips, and core. Many women have heard of kegels and may already be performing them; however, more than half the women seen in physical therapy are performing them incorrectly. A physical therapist will teach you how to correctly perform a kegel and teach you how to activate during functional everyday activities.
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