What is Urinary Incontinence?

What is Urinary Incontinence?

One of the rudest and most inappropriate things ever said to me came from a nurse! When leaving the delivery room, moments after I had my son, she said “wait until you see how you pee yourself after delivering a 9lb baby.” I thought, what a horrible thing to say!

Her words have stuck with me and I think about it often. How ignorant! The fact is, urinary incontinence impacts many women every day. There is a social stigma attached, talking about the topic is taboo and as a society we seem to brush it aside. What is urinary incontinence? What are the risk factors and treatments available? Here’s an overview.

urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence, or involuntary release of urine, impacts 1/4 to 1/3 of Americans and in addition, about 33 million have overactive bladder . (1) Mothers are most commonly impacted by urinary incontinence and it affects 30-50% of childbearing women by the age of 40. Can you believe that? 30-50%! (2) In addition, up to 63% of stress-incontinent women report their problem began during or after pregnancy. (2)

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Urinary incontinence is common and needs to be addressed. Not shamed.

Urinary incontinence is common. In fact, there are many different types of incontinence. From losing a few drops when you sneeze, to gushes and full bladder leaks, urinary incontinence is a widespread and often expensive thing to manage.

UI is very common: Urinary incontinence, combined with overactive bladder,  are 2 of the 10 most chronic conditions impacting women! (3) However, despite it’s regularity, we’re not talking about it and education can help.

Like menstruation, UI is a common issue impacting many people, lots of people. Yet, within society it brings on feelings of shame and embarrassment. Did you read those statistics? Zero embarrassment, ladies. Zero embarrassment.

What causes urinary incontinence?

The pelvic floor muscles act like a sling that holds everything in your pelvis in and up. They are voluntary muscles and play an important role in continence and prevention. (4) These muscles can become weakened through childbirth, lack of use, a decrease in estrogen, aging, surgery and injury. (4) While for some individuals there is nerve involvement, spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders, the pelvic floor muscles are often the primary cause.

Urinary incontinence is “never normal, not even in older adults…UI is treatable, even curable, and can always be managed. However, women do not seek treatment.” (5)

What happens next?

Even after delivering my 4th baby with some complications, no one talked to me about my pelvic floor muscles. At a follow-up OB appointment, she said “your have a little cystocele but it probably won’t bother you until you’re in your 40’s and we’ll deal with it then.”

Deal with it then? No. Fuck that. I’m not waiting until this gets worse! I bought myself some pelvic floor strengthening balls and reviewed the Intimina kegelsmart exerciser.

We need to take control of our own urinary health and it starts with knowledge.

 Common treatments often include:

  • Diet and exercise
    • Avoiding constipation
  • Kegel exercises (done properly)
  • Medication
  • Electrical stimulation to pelvic floor muscles
    • I learned how to do this and also tested it out!
  • Biofeedback to strengthen pelvic floor
  • Bladder retraining
  • Surgery
  • Products

Just the tip of the ice burg, or urethra I suppose in this case.

More to come. I have tested out some items I’ll share with you for strengthening and have lots of great resources for pelvic floor strengthening at home. Take control of your lady health starting today!

I appreciate your feedback and comments!

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  1. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-incontinence
  2. https://www.nafc.org/childbirth/?rq=fact
  3. Newman, D. K, & Wein, A. J. (2009) Managing and Treating Urinary Incontinence, 2nd -ed, xix, Health Professions Press.
  4. Newman, D. K, & Wein, A. J. (2009) Managing and Treating Urinary Incontinence, 2nd -ed, p. 70, Health Professions Press.
  5. Newman, D. K, & Wein, A. J. (2009) Managing and Treating Urinary Incontinence, 2nd -ed, p. 4, Health Professions Press.

This article is in no way meant to diagnose, treat or make individual recommendations. Please consult with your doctor or trained Occupational or Physical therapist for individual plans and scripts.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Great article. I’ve heard of people having ‘leaking’ problems but you are right, most people don’t talk about it. I’ve heard of Ben wa balls too. But not of the other tools nor pelvic floor exercises. Thanks for all the information & tips.

  2. Having birthed 7 amazing not to tiny humans into the world I know a bit about urinary incontinence and I thank you for creating this awesome web page that makes it all a little less embarrassing.

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