Do you leak urine with coughing, sneezing or running, or do you have a sudden, uncontrollable desire to pee, and don’t always make it to the toilet in time?
Urinary incontinence is the accidental leakage of urine, a very common pelvic health issue affecting men and women of all ages, but not normal – but there is help (yay!)
Too weak or too tense?
If you have urinary incontinence you are often told to do pelvic floor exercises. The idea is to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that act like a hammock under the bladder to keep it closed during activities such as shouting (you might have found this out recently, on lockdown with the kids!). The trouble is, this only works if the muscles are weak, and sometimes this isn’t the case.
If you experience pain with smear tests, tampons or intercourse this could indicate that your muscles may be too tense. Strengthening tense muscles will make your symptoms worse, were focusing on relaxation of the muscles is what’s needed.
Pooing like a pro?
How you poo can have a huge impact on your bladder control. Constipation is highly linked to bladder issues. If you find your poo is hard, difficult to pass, needing to strain or not feeling empty can be symptoms of constipation. Your poo should look like an uncooked sausage, (yes, we are going there, and talking about poo!) and easy to pass in less than 2 minutes (stop bringing the book to the toilet…..men, I’m talking to you!). Normal bowel movements can be three times a day to once every third day. Increasing your fluid, eating right and learning other tricks can help resolve constipation issues (that’s another blog in itself!).
Drinking too much… or too little?
Leaking urine, off course you start to reduce your fluid intake DON’T doing this can backfire. Dehydration concentrates your urine irritating the bladder wall causing bladder urgency. Drinking continuously throughout the day is recommended rather than ‘pot planting’ (drowning your plant with a pint of water in one go, maybe that’s why they don’t grow?). The amount you need to drink is lifestyle dependent, an easy guide is 30 x body weight (kg).
What you drink is also very important, the amount of people who drink 10 coffees a day is unbelievable, please don’t. Caffeine, fizzy drinks and sweeteners can be bladder irritants. Gradually changing your drinking habits can be life changing.
Going to the toilet every 3 - 4 hours during the day and once at night to pee is considered normal. We are however creatures of habit, and going before leaving the house, exercise or when you come home can train the bladder into giving you a false signal and overtime this signal can get louder and louder, telling you to go when you only have a dribble (yes, very annoying). Fortunately, you can retrain your bladder, this does take commitment I’m not going to lie to you. Urgency can sometimes be symptoms of other medical issues and seeing a health professional is vital.
Go to the Professionals
If you find your symptoms are staying the same or getting worse, seeing a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic health is highly recommended. They will be able to see if you need any medical investigations or further medical review. Whether you need to strengthen or relax the pelvic floor muscles a pelvic health physiotherapist will be able to guide you, making it fun with plenty of gadgets! It’s worth investigating (I’m slightly biased however).