Urinary incontinence is no laughing matter! But it can certainly happen when you laugh, or cough or sneeze! 25 million Americans suffer from some form of urinary incontinence. While it's not "normal" it sure is common.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are three different kinds of urinary incontinence:
1. Stress urinary incontinence: caused by laughing, coughing, sneezing, changing position, jumping etc
2. Urge urinary incontinence: occurs when the there's a strong urge to urinate even if the bladder isn't full, and can't quite make it to the bathroom in time
3. Mixed incontinence (a little bit of both stress and urge incontinence)
You might be wondering why urinary incontinence happens! This is somewhat dependent on the type of incontinence that someone is experiencing.
What is stress incontinence?
Let's start first with stress incontinence. Often time this is caused by a weakening in the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles act like a sling to support the underside of the body and play a huge role in stopping the flow of urine out of the urethra. When we jump, laugh or cough it puts a downward force onto the pelvic floor, and if that pelvic floor isn't as strong as it could be, our body has a difficult time holding in the urine. Think of it like a full water balloon on a paper towel vs a sheet and then throwing in the air and back down again. No wonder we leak!
What is urge incontinence?
Urge incontinence can become very cyclical because of the frequent feeling of needing to use the restroom. When the bladder is full it communicates with the brain and pelvic floor for emptying. However, if the bladder is constantly emptied at it's less than full capacity it will always think that it needs to be emptied at that point which causes increased urinary frequency. The incontinence component comes in when that urge is so strong, that the pelvic floor completely releases and urine is released.This is a learned behavior that we can stop!
Pelvic Floor Weakness?
This is such a good question! It happens for a variety of reasons.
- Perhaps you had one or more pregnancies. Remember that water balloon analogy? Now throw a bowling ball into the mix. The pelvic floor has had a lot of downward stress exerted on it and the trauma to it during delivery.
- Maybe you experienced other significant or fast weight gain. Again, a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor, it makes it hard to contract.
- You're highly active and do a lot of jumping, running, bouncing etc. That water balloon keeps being thrown up and down and without proper recruitment of the pelvic floor, can cause it to weaken over time.
- Surgery! There are a variety of pelvic surgeries that can cause damage to the nerves and muscles in the pelvic floor. Prostatectomies are frequently accompanied by urinary incontinence.
- Maybe none of these apply to you but as you've aged, the pelvic floor has weakened. When we age there is a decrease in muscle strength naturally.
Physical therapy for urinary incontinence in Columbia and Baltimore, Maryland
If you have urinary incontinence reach out to our office today!