Laugh without worry: Three tips for dealing with urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is one of those health problems people do not want to talk about – even with their doctor. There are many products that allow individuals to be discreet about this issue. What if you did not have to worry about laughing in public? What if you did not have to worry about how far it is to the nearest restroom? Pelvic floor physical therapy may be the answer.

Urinary incontinence is a symptom or a sign; it is not a disease. It is not something that only occurs in the older population, and it is not something that women just have to “deal with” after having a baby. According to the National Association for Continence, 25 million American adults experience urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence occurs in 26 percent of women between ages 18-59. Overall, 45 percent of mothers have urinary incontinence seven years postpartum, which is nearly one-half of all mothers!

There are two main types of urinary incontinence: stress and urge incontinence. Urge incontinence is “the involuntary urine loss accompanied or immediately preceded by urgency or a strong desire to void,” according to the International Continence Society. The bladder muscle is either uninhibited or overactive. With urge incontinence, you may leak urine on the way to the toilet or with a strong urge to go to the restroom. Stress urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine with physical exertion. It may be related to hypermobility of the bladder and urethra, and/or internal urethral sphincter deficiency. With stress urinary incontinence, you may leak urine with coughing, sneezing, laughing, sex or exercise. In individuals who exercise regularly, 49 percent experience stress urinary incontinence. However, most incontinence problems are a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Consider these three tips to take control of your urinary incontinence:

  1. Talk to your primary care provider. There are certain medications and foods that can trigger urinary incontinence, including alcohol, caffeine and acidic foods. Talk with your doctor about alternatives that could help improve your situation.Your primary care provider may also refer you to one of our specialists in urogynecology or urology if they believe a more thorough exam or medical treatment may be needed.
  2. Weight control can help. Additional abdominal pressure can increase pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor and increase incontinence. Even a five percent reduction in body mass can make a significant improvement in continence.
  3. Give pelvic floor physical therapy a try. This specialized physical therapy has proven results. After getting your medical history, the physical therapist will conduct an examination to assess anatomy, nervous system, muscle control, strength and mobility to develop a personalized treatment program. Therapy may include behavioral strategies to “train” overactive tendencies of the bladder, therapeutic exercises, education and functional retraining.

If you are experiencing incontinence, know that you are not alone – and help is available. Call UofL Health – Frazier Rehabilitation Institute today at 502-582-7406 to schedule a pelvic floor evaluation at one of three convenient locations: Frazier Rehab Institute – Outpatient Therapy, UofL Hospital – Outpatient Rehab Center or Mary & Elizabeth Hospital.

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Jessica Sizemore, PT, DPT, CBIS

Jessica Sizemore, PT, DPT, CBIS, is a physical therapist at UofL Health – Frazier Rehabilitation Institute at Mary & Elizabeth Hospital. Her clinical interests include Women’s Health Pelvic Floor Therapy, Parkinson’s disease, strokes and acquired brain injuries and orthopedic conditions. She works with people of all ages with various conditions and enjoys learning from patients as she develops their individualized treatment plans. Jessica received a bachelor’s in exercise science and doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Evansville.

All posts by Jessica Sizemore, PT, DPT, CBIS
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