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Incontinence Is Not A Laughing Matter

The problem: Urinary leakage (incontinence) affects 1 in 3 women across their lifespan.

Wherever you are right now, look around at your colleagues/family/friends/etc. Someone has incontinence, has had incontinence in the past, or will have incontinence in the future. Incontinence is not a typical conversation between mother and daughter, friends at brunch, or even between physician and patient; however, this issue is very common and should not be considered “taboo” during daily discussion. Often incontinence can be preventable. Just to be clear…while incontinence is common (and should be discussed freely), it is not normal.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the involuntary loss of either urine (urinary incontinence) or feces (fecal incontinence). In this blog we will be focusing on the term urinary incontinence. This can be caused by weakness, pelvic floor dysfunctions, poor motor control, injury to surrounding tissues, and childbirth.

There are four types of urinary incontinence, the two that we will focus on in this blog are: Stress and urge urinary incontinence.

1) Stress urinary incontinence

Urine leakage occurs when there is an increase in pressure exerted on the bladder and/or pelvic floor.

This can occur with coughing, laughing, sneezing, jumping, and/or exercising

2) Urge urinary incontinence

Urine leakage occurs when experience a strong urge to use the restroom.

-This can occur in the presence of psychological triggers such as when you turn the key to your house, as the garage opens, on the way to the bathroom, when water runs, etc.)

Can urinary incontinence be treated?

YES!!! Good news, there are multiple ways to help prevent, decrease, and even cure incontinence! There is no easy “one size fits all” fix because everyone’s leakage can have a different cause or combination of causes. I hear from many clients that they have “Dr. Googled” how to cure their leakage and it has not helped. This is why it is SO important to get evaluated by a pelvic health physical therapist to see why YOU are having incontinence.

As for me…I am 9 weeks away from my due date and… my bladder is feeling it! Little did I know I was going to have multiple of these symptoms that my patients complain of. Urination frequency, urgency, urge incontinence, stress urinary incontinence, pelvic pressure, difficulty starting a urine stream, etc. are all common complaints that I hear on a daily basis related to the bladder during and after pregnancy. It has been good for me to experience the symptoms that I am helping my clients with on a daily basis. (On the plus side…I get to practice my exercises!)

Here are some ways to track your progress/gauge your dysfunction/goals to work towards:

  • Urination frequency during the day 5-7x/day

  • Urination frequency at night 0-1x/night

  • Bladder should hold about 10 ounces of fluid

Here are some symptoms that would warrant a pelvic health evaluation related to bladder symptoms:

  • Leaking with cough/laugh/sneeze

  • Leaking with exercise and activity

  • Leaking with urge to use the restroom

  • Difficulty starting stream of urine

  • Pain with urination

  • Pelvic pressure

Merci Ortenzi Treaster is a pelvic health therapist at Functionize Health & Physical Therapy. She treats prenatal and postpartum clients, pelvic pain, urinary/fecal incontinence, constipation/ IBS, diastasis recti, and supportive dysfunctions. Merci received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Mercer University.

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