Part of pelvic floor evaluation includes talking about bathroom habits. A pelvic floor therapist will ask if you suffer from any incontinence: bowel or bladder. The typical response is a quick No! Many times the response is so strong and an unintentional raise in their voice occurs.
Let’s destigmatize this:
Over half of women suffer from urinary incontinence
14% of men suffer from urinary incontinence
This isn’t even accounting for fecal incontinence which includes unintentional flatulence (passing of gas). We’ll be focusing on urinary incontinence during this blog.
Now that we’ve established that A LOT of people suffer from incontinence of some type, it’s important to understand that there are many different types of incontinence. It’s not just leaking urine.
Stress urinary incontinence (UI) - is an unintentional loss of urine with sneezing, coughing, lifting, exertion. This is generally due to weakness of the pelvic floor muscles that support your urethra
Urge UI - when the need to urinate comes on so strong that you leak on the way to the bathroom
Mixed UI - a combination of Stress and Urge UI
Postural UI - occurs when changing positions. This could potentially be due to a poor involuntary pelvic floor muscle contraction or due to a pelvic organ prolapse
Continuous UI - continuous leakage of urine throughout the day. This can be due to a potential gap in the wall that separates the vagina and urethra or a malfunction of the bladder
Insensible UI - loss of urine with no sensation that it happened. You only realize it after the fact.
Coital UI - leakage during intercourse. It’s important to discern when during intercourse you notice leakage
So can I do something about incontinence?
Yes! A pelvic floor therapist will be able to assist with a proper diagnosis of what’s causing this involuntary loss of urine. Is it muscle strength, coordination, a problem with your bladder, an alteration of sensation??? Once the cause is determined they may suggest exercises to improve your pelvic floor muscle strength/endurance/coordination, advise in bathroom habits, or suggest a physician that can offer other options.
If you are suffering from urinary incontinence, Dr. P.J. is ready to help! Dr. P.J. obtained post-doctoral training in pelvic floor therapy from the American Physical Therapy Association.