Do you leak when you sneeze? Do you avoid certain activities or exercises because you fear you might have an accident? Does just the idea of jumping on a trampoline have you crossing your legs and squeezing for dear life just at the very thought? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions there are some very important things I want you to know:
1. These symptoms are characteristic of stress urinary incontinence which is a pelvic floor dysfunction.
2. You are NOT alone!
3. There are treatments that can help.
Finding exact statistics on the number of women who experience stress urinary incontinence is difficult for a few reasons. For one thing, leaking urine can bring on feelings of embarrassment and shame making women experiencing symptoms reluctant to share their troubles with anyone, let alone their doctor. For another, many women assume it is a normal product of getting older or bearing children and therefore do not seek treatment.
Referring to the title of this blog post, there seems to be a myth that is perpetuated that once you have a child, trampolines, jump-roping and maybe even jogging are a thing of the past. Now, I do not deny that giving birth is a risk factor for urinary incontinence, but I DO NOT believe it is an inevitable outcome and I DO believe in most cases it is treatable. In my personal opinion, I think the increased numbers of women experiencing incontinence after childbirth may be more related to the fact that once a woman delivers her baby she is often left to try to heal her core, including her pelvic floor, on her own, while taking care of the beautiful (6 lb 7 oz and constantly getting heavier) life she brought into the world...while not sleeping...and hardly having time to eat...and potentially even returning to a full time job 12 weeks later.
As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I have seen many women who experience stress incontinence who range from 6 weeks to 30+ years postpartum. It is never too late to take action with your pelvic health! If you choose to see a pelvic floor physical therapist, you can first expect a thorough evaluation including a detailed medical and obstetric history. Once the evaluation is completed you will be guided through a progressive and individualized core and pelvic floor rehabilitation program until you are able to participate in the meaningful activities in your life with confidence! For more information please refer to the pelvic floor FAQs page.
Now to be clear, though it was not the focus of this post, women of all ages including those who have never given birth can experience stress urinary incontinence. Men can also experience stress urinary incontinence. It is important to note that pelvic floor physical therapy can help these populations as well.