Pelvic Floor Health
Do you leak urine when you cough, laugh or sneeze?
How about when you run or jump?
Maybe you just don’t quite make it to the bathroom in time?
Urinary incontinence, as defined by the involuntary loss of urine, or “leaking” is much more common than many people realize because we just don’t talk about it! Studies have shown that over 50% of all women and over 10% of men have reported urinary incontinence, with prevalence increasing as people age, though it is not uncommon in younger, healthy women, even those who have never had a baby. But that does not mean that it has to be that way. Did you know that physical therapy can help with these symptoms? Studies have shown that a majority of women live with incontinence for 3+ years before seeking a cure. There are likely multiple reasons for this, including the belief that incontinence is a normal part of aging, not knowing that there are non-surgical and non-drug options to treat the symptoms, or embarrassment about talking about these symptoms with healthcare providers.
Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles at the base of the pelvis, between your hips. When they are functioning optimally, they contract to support your bladder, rectum and reproductive organs, and relax to allow for urination, defecation, intercourse, pelvic exams, etc. If this group of muscles is not working well, it can lead to incontinence, feelings of pressure/heaviness, painful bowel movements or intercourse, and even can contribute to issues such as constipation or chronic low back pain. Pregnancy and vaginal deliveries are the most common contributing factor to pelvic floor dysfunction, though many other lifestyle factors are also important.
An evaluation with a pelvic floor physical therapist can uncover weaknesses, coordination issues, or daily habits or postures which may contribute to incontinence, especially in the early stages, though it is never too late! The first visit can be a little nerve-wracking for some people, but rest assured your therapist will do everything possible to make you comfortable with the exam and treatment process. On the first visit we’ll discuss your symptoms, medical history, and daily habits. Then assess your strength, posture, and overall mobility, focusing on the hips and lumbar spine. Specific assessment of pelvic floor muscles (your “kegel” muscles”) may be performed with a simple manual vaginal exam. Treatment may include specific strengthening exercises, daily habit modifications, breathing techniques and/or stretches, unique to each individual.
Research has shown that a vast majority of women (89%) who participate in physical therapy for incontinence become completely continent, or are satisfied with their results after up to 15 weekly sessions, but many graduate much sooner. Why wait, take control over your bladder today! Call our Mt. Vernon office to schedule an evaluation.