Lifting something heavy.
Inserting your house key into the lock.
Going for a run.
Hearing the sound of running water.
Any one of these things can have you running for the bathroom, sometimes uncertain if you or your bladder is going to win the race. Maybe you don’t jump on the trampoline with your kids anymore, opting instead to stand in the corner with all the other moms, lamenting the days before poise pads and extra underwear in your purse.
Movies and anecdotal advice and advertisements will tell you that leaking after having a baby is normal – “it’s just what happens”. Is it “just what happens” when it happens to athletes, female paratroopers, or high school girls? Urinary incontinence is common, but it is not inevitable. It is totally treatable. Not by thousands of kegels, but by individualized programming based on your specific needs. Your needs may be different based on your level of activity, how many times, if at all, you have been pregnant, whether or not you have gone through menopause, how you tend to move and use your body, and any number of other things that makes you, you.
So what can you do?
If you are leaking after getting a strong urge to urinate when you do something like inserting your house key in the lock, pulling into your driveway after work, or hearing running water, start to recognize those cues, and take note of how much time you have before you MUST use the restroom. Try to slowly increase the amount of time between that trigger and your response. If you are unable to increase the amount of time and feel like the urgency is interrupting your life, find a pelvic floor physical therapist who can help.
If you are leaking immediately when you change position, jump, laugh, cough, or sneeze, there are a multitude of factors that could contribute to that. It could be because your pelvic floor (those are the muscles that help us stay continent) aren’t as strong as they should be. It could be because your pelvic floor muscles are on too often, trying to do the work of other muscles that aren’t pulling their weight. It could be because you have pelvic, low back, or hip pain. It could be because you need a new strategy to get your whole body working as it was meant to – as a unit. Pelvic floor physical therapists are trained to assess the cause of your leaking in order to give you the treatment plan most likely to help you stop.
Leaking doesn’t have to be shameful, but it also doesn’t mean you just have to live with it. Leaking can interrupt your life and impact your athletic performance. A pelvic floor therapist can help you find a way to stop it from doing either.