- Women’s Health
- Healthy Living
- Health Conditions
- Nurse Barb
I just gave a talk to a group of about 75 women at midlife. When I asked for a show of hands for how many women experience urine leaking with a cough, sneeze or laugh, about 1/2 raised their hands.
Yes, about a third to a half of us are having a little pee pee problem. Fear not! There’s an App for that now too!
Strengthening the pelvic floor means you’ll be less like to deal with this possibility.
When I ask my patients to do a Kegel or to try to squeeze their pelvic floor muscles during an exam, it’s clear that only about 1/2 are able to isolate and squeeze the right muscles. Many use their abdominal muscles, many push out and many simply don’t have the sensation. Once we work on how to do the exercises and get women started practicing, most report that their lives have changed, for the better because they aren’t leaking at all or nearly as much.
We’re all busy, so here’s some options to help you stay dry and a surprising option at the end.
At home Kegels! There’s an App for that
For women who want to work on their pelvic floor muscles in the privacy of their own home, here’s a few new options:
Discreet vaginal inserts
Lightweight, small, discreet vaginal inserts that use Bluetooth technology connected to your smartphone so you can see if you’re doing your Kegels correctly. (more…)
Are you like millions of women who leak urine? Do you know where every bathroom is in a 5 mile radius of your house? Or maybe you wear a pantyliner to catch the little leaks that might occur if you cough, sneeze or laugh? Or maybe you’re like my patient Joan who leaks as soon as she puts the key into her front door. What’s up with that?
You are Not Alone
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because millions of women will experience some leaking, what we call urinary incontinence, at some point during their lives. This isn’t a topic that most women feel comfortable bringing up, even with their health care providers.
Most of my patients are surprised to learn that they’re not the only ones dealing with this. One patient told me she didn’t want to mention it because she was sure she’d be scolded for not doing Kegel exercises 10,000 times/day. As she said, “I don’t even know if I’m doing them right.”
Women who don’t leak urine are usually younger and have not had any pregnancies. As you can see in this illustration, the bladder is a nice oval shape, is high above the vagina and the the valves or urethral sphincters that stay closed so that you can stay dry. The bladder is held up in place by the pelvic floor muscles.
Eventually, over time, as gravity works it’s not so nice magic on the pelvic floor muscles the bladder can slip down into a curved position where some of the urine can stay in a pool that never quite empties, which can lead to leaking.
Should You Exercise Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The pelvic floor is like a small trampoline, it has a little bit of bounce and keeps all the organs in their places with bright shiny faces. Exercising your pelvic floor muscles helps strengthen them and can help women regain control leading to less leaking.
To find out if you need to exercise take this quick quiz
If you answered True to any of these questions, practicing pelvic floor exercises can help you regain more control over your bladder.
How to exercise your pelvic floor
It may be difficult to isolate the muscles of your pelvic floor and to learn how not to use your abdominal muscles to squeeze, hold and then relax. Here’s how you might practice in the privacy of your bathroom. I recommend trying while seated on the toilet.
My friend, Katie called yesterday. The night before, she was at her monthly Bunco group, and after enjoying an appletini and was sitting in her chair, laughing at a friend’s hilarious story about their kids. Suddenly Katie was laughing so hard that she literally pee’d her pants. “I couldn’t control it,” she blurted, “Luckily, I was wearing dark pants, and it was just a little bit, but that has happened since after I had my 2nd child. OMG, is this the beginning of the end?
I think it’s funny and great way to get the conversation about leaking started. I mean how many of us know the precise location of every bathroom in a 5 mile radius? None of my patients wants to use heavy, bulky, diaper like protection. Poise works and they’re discreet, so that you can feel confident whether you’re laughing with friends, have a little cough or even stepping off a curb.
Did you know that one out of every four women will experience some form of pelvic health issue – bleeding, urinary incontinence or pelvic pain? This number actually doubles as women age!
Pelvic pain and incontinence frequently are suffered in silence, due to embarrassment. But an entire medical discipline devoted to these conditions is making significant inroads in the treatment of the painful conditions that fall under the topic of “pelvic health.” Women can now exchange embarrassment for empowerment.
In this edition of Nurse Barb’s Daily Dose, Barb speaks with the pelvic health experts: Drs. Sari Levine and Katherine Sutherland and physical therapist Meenal Mujumdar. Together, they address some of the misconceptions that keep women from seeking treatment for pelvic pain or incontinence problems and explain the advances in treatments that are worth considering.
Topics Covered Include:
You can download my Menopause Guide here.