Written by: Nicole O’Neill, PT, DPT
Do you pee when you sneeze, cough, or laugh?
Are you avoiding exercise you used to love because of leakage?
Are you limiting your fluid intake because of leakage?
Are there days you can’t get to the bathroom quickly enough?
Are you pregnant?
Have you recently given birth?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, keep reading!
As a pelvic floor therapist, one of the things I hear the most is, “I pee when I (insert any activity here), but its ok its because I have kids.”
Well, I am here to tell you that regardless of whether or not you were or are pregnant, peeing on yourself is not ok!
We have normalized thinking leakage is an automatic part of aging or something that happens after you have kids. Leakage happens when the pelvic floor muscles become weak, whether because of hormonal changes (with age) or damage (like childbirth).
However common it may be, it is never normal to leak urine regardless of if you are pregnant, recently postpartum, or your kids are grown and off to college. This includes leakage of number 2, too! It is important to seek help and talk to your doctor, because there is normally something we can do about it.
The two main types of incontinence are stress and urge incontinence.
- Stress incontinence is when you leak with activities such as sneezing, coughing, laughing, or jumping on the dreaded trampoline.
- Urge incontinence is when the urge hits you, and all of the sudden there is no stopping it or you’re running to the bathroom.
Some people have mixed incontinence – a combination of both stress and urge.
These symptoms can often be helped by visiting a pelvic floor therapist, being evaluated, and starting a treatment program. Even if you are not experiencing leakage, getting evaluated after childbirth (whether vaginal or c-section) is still an important part of making sure your body is healing and functioning properly to avoid problems in the future.
Here are some quick tips to help you before you make your appointment!
1. Avoid caffeine and acidic foods such as coffee, tea, and juices that irritate the bladder lining.
2. Stay hydrated – reducing the amount of fluid you drink may make leakage worse, not better!
3. Avoid being constipated. This adds more stress to the pelvic floor and makes it harder to control your bladder
4. Squeeze before you sneeze! If you just notice leakage when you sneeze or cough, make the effort to squeeze your pelvic floor muscles (like you are stopping the flow of urine or trying to stop from passing gas) before the cough or sneeze. This should help engage your muscles and reduce leakage.
Set up your appointment with a pelvic floor therapist today!