Heal – Don’t Live With – Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence can plague women of all ages, particularly those who have given birth. Even women who have never been pregnant can find they have a more difficult time controlling their bladder as they age, especially after menopause when hormonal changes do more than simply stop your menstrual cycle.
There’s no need to live with incontinence. In fact, there are whole physical therapies designed to strengthen and improve pelvic floor health, which often reverses incontinence as well as additional weakness or prolapse that may be occurring.
You May Be Experiencing Urinary Incontinence or an Overactive Bladder (OAB) If…
Here are some of the signs that you may be experiencing urinary incontinence, which is also referred to as an overactive bladder (OAB) or stress incontinence – depending on its type:
- The urge to urinate comes on very suddenly, rather than gradually.
- You can move from comfortable to “I need a bathroom NOW!” in a matter of seconds.
- Your bladder leaks or lets go when you sneeze, laugh, run, exercise, jump or lift heavy objects.
- You’ve noticed you organize your day and activities around whether or not a bathroom is close by.
Sometimes, the simple act of needing to urinate is enough to cause a little urine to leak through the urethral sphincter muscles and – unfortunately – onto your panties or pants.
There are several causes of female urinary incontinence:
Pregnancy & Childbirth. Not surprisingly, pregnancy and the act of bearing a child is one of the largest causes of incontinence, and no wonder! The weight and pressure placed on the bladder and urinary tract during pregnancy – combined with the physical rigors of birthing a baby – can cause muscular and connective tissue weakness that perpetuates without the right postpartum support. Women who have C-Sections are not saved from potential incontinence either. The abdominal/pelvic muscles that are cut to deliver the baby help to provide support for the bladder and urinary tract as well. Weakening these via a C-section can eventually lead to incontinence.
Menopause. There is still so much that isn’t known about the reproductive parts and the hormonal symphonies that work to assimilate them. However, experts do know that pre- and postmenopausal women are more prone to incontinence whether they’ve had a baby or not. They believe decreasing estrogen levels weaken the muscles and connective tissues associated with the urinary tract.
Bladder infections. Bladder infections can be temporary sources of incontinence, especially for women who already experience occasional incontinence.
Surgery/Injury. Anyone who has had pelvic surgery or a traumatic injury to the pelvic region can be at higher risk for developing bladder leakage as the result of tissue damage, scarring and/or nerve damage. Illnesses like Parkinson’s, muscular sclerosis, strokes and diabetes can increase the chances of urinary incontinence.
Medications. Some medications, such as diuretics (often used to treat heart failure, hypertension, liver cirrhosis and certain kidney diseases) or hormone therapies are linked to a leaky bladder.
Go Beyond the Kegels
While Kegel exercises can be excellent for strengthening vaginal tone and parts of the pelvic floor, they may not be enough. Visit the Mayo Clinic’s Kegel exercises How-To Guide to make sure you are doing them properly. If Kegels aren’t working – it might be time for pelvic physical therapy.
Pelvic Physical Therapy Can Do Wonders
Before going straight to medication or surgical solutions, try pelvic physical therapy. A newer kid on the block, pelvic physical therapy was born in the mid-90s. Now, an entire branch of physical therapy is dedicated to women and pelvic floor health. Referred to as Women’s Health Physical Therapy (WHPT), these therapists work exclusively with women to help them heal from:
- Childbirth trauma
- Prolapsed organ prolapse
- Sexual dysfunction
- Latent pelvic pain or discomfort
The simple act of reconditioning pelvic and core muscles, combined with potential diet and lifestyle changes can have dramatic effects on urinary incontinence – allowing women to be free of the frustrating and often embarrassing side effects of bladder leakage.
In addition to promoting pelvic health, most women who undergo pelvic physical therapy for incontinence find that they feel more fit, younger and sexier than they have in years. Only after physical therapy has proven ineffective should women pursue more invasive solutions, such as medication or surgery.
Are you suffering from urinary incontinence? Are the effects of your leaky bladder keeping you from living the active lifestyle you’re accustomed to? Or, has that unpredictable gush simply become a bane in your daily existence?
Schedule an appointment at Women’s Health Associates so we can provide a thorough examination. We can refer you to some of the area’s leading women’s health physical therapists so you can begin to heal your incontinence sooner – rather than later.