Which Woman Are You?
Grown women peeing their pants. Yes, it happens. A lot.
The fancy term for this unwanted leaking of urine is called incontinence. And we’ve discovered that when it comes to dealing (or not) with accidental leaks, there are six types of women out there:
1) The band-aid seekers.
These women believe that leaking is just what happens with babies or ageing. They think it’s normal and they simply adapt by wearing dark clothes, spending a small fortune on incontinence products, and singing que sera sera. They have no idea what the future holds if they continue on without a care (hint: things only get worse…).
2) The comedians.
The comedic types fully acknowledge that, yes, they just peed with that last sneeze. They laugh it off as a funny joke and are completely self-debasing… in a humorous way. Awkwardness is always eased by getting their girlfriends to laugh with/at them. The truth is, although they may be smiling on the outside, they are secretly crying on the inside.
3) The deluded.
Usually these types exist in environments where “go big or go home” is a daily mantra. We’re talking boot camp, cross-fit, body building, ultra fit marathoners and the like, who are not at all troubled by leaking. In fact, they wear their soaked panties as a badge of honour – as proof that they are super hard core. Everything on the outside looks great, but inner fitness…not so great.
4) The mortified.
Women in this category are embarrassed beyond words by their bladder issues. They feel a huge amount of shame. The humiliation they experience causes them to clam up around health care providers – or anyone for that matter. Their secret keeps them bound and ultimately perpetuates the problem that they so loathe.
5) The hermits.
Hermits live with fear and anxiety. They stay close to home and close to their toilet. If they must go out, they chart their course around the availability of bathrooms and they go pee “just in case” many many times a day. They are afraid to do anything that may cause them to experience a sudden urge to pee. Their quality of life and ability to participate in things they love is therefore severely limited.
6) The proactive.
By reading this you are being proactive! Good on you! Women who are proactive start by understanding what is normal vs abnormal. They understand that they don’t have to live a life subject to incontinence. They overcome their feelings of embarrassment or fear and seek out care. They ultimately experience greater freedom and happiness in life because they learn strategies to care for and take control over their bodies.
The truth is that most types of incontinence CAN BE TREATED very effectively with a bit of knowledge, some lifestyle upgrades, and by practicing key strategies.
Incontinence is defined as unwanted leaking of urine or stool in ANY amount. And although you think it’s just you who accidentally pees her pants, urinary incontinence is actually experienced by 1 in 3 women. And it’s not just little old ladies. Young female athletes, new moms, women nearing menopause, and elderly women all deal with various types of incontinence (there are 6 types – stress incontinence being the most common). Stress incontinence is leaking due to an inability to manage downward pressure placed on the bladder from coughing, jumping, lifting, laughing, straining, exerting effort, running etc. It may be accompanied by a sense of urgency or frequent voiding (defined as urinating every 2.5 hours or less).
To help you understand the mechanism of stress incontinence: imagine a water balloon that has just been filled and is now pinched closed by your fingers. The balloon is your bladder, the water inside is urine, and your fingers pinching off the bottom are your pelvic floor muscles. If you forcefully squeeze the balloon at the top (ie. creating downward pressure) then your fingers may have to work a little harder to keep the water in. If your fingers are weak, they will not be able to effectively stop a trickle of water out of the balloon. If your fingers are strong, but the pressures are too great, then your fingers lose the battle and water flows out. It’s not a perfect analogy to what actually happens physiologically, but you get the basic idea.
The pelvic floor muscles should automatically activate to counteract downward pressures on the bladder. When this doesn’t happen due to weakness of the muscles, or poor timing, or poor position of the pelvic floor, or overwhelming pressure from above, then leaks occur.
Our job as pelvic health physiotherapists is to assess the situation and understand why incontinence is occurring in the first place. (And sometimes the answer is not what you would expect)! We then devise a plan to train the continence system appropriately. Clients at our office are often surprised by how effective their treatment is and how quickly they see changes. They are shocked by the simplicity of the solution and frequently say “I wish I had come here sooner!”
Cultivate Inner Strength
An evaluation of your muscles function is essential to understanding the root causes of your pelvic floor or bladder problems. Without an assessment, you’re really just guessing at what is going on. And guessing can only get you so far. Do you really need five good reasons to get your pelvic health assessed?! Probably not – but just in case you do:
1. Incontinence is not considered normal healthy function. It is a symptom of underlying pelvic and musculoskeletal dysfunction.
2. Leaking will only worsen with time. Did you know that the inability to managing toileting is the #1 reason for admission to nursing homes?
3. Leaking is impacting your ability to do stuff that you want to do and stuff that you love.
4. You wouldn’t ignore a leak in your car or from your fridge. Treat your body better than your stuff – you’ve only got one body.
5. You will learn so much about your own body AND be equipped with strategies to get better for the long run (literally and figuratively speaking). You will feel so much more confident in your body.
It really is worth the investment to know where you stand with your pelvic health. And it’s never too late to get checked. You deserve to live a life free of dysfunction so you can do what you want to do with liberty and with confidence!
So, are you ready to exercise a little control over your pelvic health? If so, we can help.
Start by getting evaluated and understanding where you stand. Then we’ll take it from there.