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With Vanessa McGibbon PT

Hey ladies. I want to bring up a topic that affects 1/4 women overall, and up to 75 per cent of women over the age of 65—incontinence (urine leakage). Do you leak when you cough, sneeze, or jump? Do you have a growing fear of trampolines? Do you get a sudden, maybe uncontrollable urge to urinate as soon as you put your keys in the door? Well I’m here to tell you all of this is treatable and nothing that you have to live with. These issues are probably not something you bring up at the dinner table, and so women needlessly suffer for years or decades, when there is often an easy fix.

I am trained in Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy. I have extra training to be able to talk about the muscle group down there, as well as what problems can arise when it’s not up to snuff. Maybe you know what a kegel is? That is a contraction of your pelvic floor. Women and men can experience things like pelvic pain (vaginismus, vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, dyspaneuria), incontinence (stress, urge, or mixed, urinary or fecal) for a multitude of reasons, but whatever the cause I want you to know that there are non-surgical treatment options for them. We’ll chat about incontinence today, but if you have pain with intercourse, are worried about a prolapse, or any other issues in your nether regions, please come seek guidance.

Stress vs. Urge Incontinence
Stress incontinence is leakage that occurs with physical movement, or activity that puts pressure on your bladder. It may happen when you cough, sneeze, jump, or run. Your pelvic floor helps accept the force of these activities as it sits underneath your bladder. Your breathing pattern influences the effect of activity on your floor as well, as breath holding will increase pressure. If you’ve just had a baby, then your pelvic floor might be pretty tired from all the work and possible trauma it’s just been through. Stress incontinence is normal for about a month post-pregnancy, however past that therapy can correct what’s left. The treatment of stress incontinence is about building strength of this area, releasing resting tension if there is any, as well as retraining the motor pattern (you can google “the Knack pelvic floor” for free videos).

Urge incontinence is the sudden urge to urinate with involuntary loss of urine. I do treat people that have the urge symptom without true incontinence afterwards, as it can still be a really debilitating symptom. I compare your bladder function to training a dog – if your dog wants to go for a walk, you should be able to finish whatever you’re doing and take it out 10 minutes later. If your dog (or bladder) is running the show, then it needs to be retrained. The treatment for this is largely education based – understand that you do not have a “small bladder” just because you’ve had a baby. The easiest piece of advice I can give everyone is DON’T do just-in-case pees—only go when you need to, and don’t go in a rush.