While peing your pants may be common, it is definitely not NORMAL! Any involuntary loss of urine is a sign that your pelvic floor muscles are not working properly. Urine leakage can happen when you cough, sneeze, laugh, walk, stand up, jump, skip, bend down, run or as you're rushing to get to the bathoom. If you get any leaking of urine at all when you don't want to leak, no matter how little, it's urinary incontinence.
Chances are you've come across at least one advertisement on TV, in magazines or social media that advertise various products related to incontinence. Special incontinence pads, tampon-like products and dietary supplements...the list goes on and on. Although its great that people are starting to talk about urinary incontinence more openly, this also makes people think that it is a normal thing to expect with aging and childbirth.
Urinary continence is very TREATABLE and should not be viewed as "normal"!
Urinary incontinence is NOT NORMAL and is VERY TREATABLE!
Let's bust some myths!
There are a lot of myths out there about urinary incontinence but we (the pelvic physios of the world) are on a mission to spread the word and educate people so that everyone knows that urinary incontinence is TREATABLE!
Myth #1: Its normal to leak urine after being pregnant and giving birth.
While urinary leaking is common after giving birth it is still not normal. Gone are the days where women should blindly accept that urinary incontinence goes hand in hand with post-partum life.
Yes, pregnancy and childbirth are risk factors for developing urinary incontinence but it doesn't mean that everyone who gives birth will experience symptoms of urinary incontinence. Approximately 40.2% of women after a vaginal birth and 30% after a cesarean section delivery experience urinary incontinence (1). In women who have never given birth, 10-15% experience urinary incontinence (1).
Seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist during pregnancy and after delivery is a proactive way of ensuring that any urinary incontinence symptoms are treated and managed early on!
Myth #2: Its normal to leak urine as you get older.
Age-related and hormonal changes are also risk factors for developing urinary incontinence. However, this does not mean that urinary incontinence is a normal and expected part of aging.
An early and proactive approach to the treatment of urinary incontinence is key. Maintaining good pelvic floor and core strength along with proper exercise and body weight managment are all ways of keeping yourself dry as you get older.
Myth #3: Only women experience urinary incontinence
While urinary incontinence occurs more in women, men can also experience it. It's estimated that 7% of Canadian women and 3.5% of Canadian men experience urinary incontinence (2). Age and surgical procedures for the prostate are both risk factors for developing urinary incontinence.
Just like women, men can also benefit from seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist to treat their urinary incontinence symptoms.
Myth #4: Kids and young adults don't get urinary incontinence.
Approximately 10% of 7 year olds, 3% of 11-12 year olds and 1% of 16-17 year olds experience bedwetting during the night (3). Between 3.2 to 9% of 7 year olds and 1.1 to 4.2% of 11-13 year olds experience urinary leakage during the daytime (3).
Urinary incontinence in children and young adults is also treatable. Some pelvic health physiotherapists have specific training in pediatric pelvic floor physiotherapy are able to effectively help young clients to gain control over their bladder.
Is urinary incontinence that common?
According to the Canadian Continence Foundation, 3.3 million Canadians are affected by urinary incontinence (4). That's 10% of our population!
Urinary incontinence is costly for the individual, employers and the health care system. It is estimated that individuals experiencing urinary incontinence spend between $1400 and $2100 per year on incontinence-related products (2).
So how does pelvic floor physiotherapy help?
Pelvic floor physiotherapists are trained health professionals and have taken specific courses to help treat and manage urinary incontinence.
Treatments may involve specific pelvic floor exercises, core exercises, muscle stimulation or biofeedback and functional training.
Pelvic health physiotherapy is less expensive and less invasive than surgery or medications and research shows that it is an effective first line of treatment for urinary incontinence (5). Women who are active participants in pelvic floor muscle training are more likely to report a resolution or decrease in their urinary incontinence symptoms and better quality of life (5).
If you're struggling with urinary incontinence, you will benefit from seeing a qualified and skilled pelvic floor physiotherapist!
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1. Gyhagen M, Bullarbo M, Nielsen TF, Milsom I. The prevalence of urinary incontinence 20 years after childbirth: A national cohort study in singleton primiparae after vaginal or caesarean delivery. BJOG: An international Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2013; 20(2):144-151.
2. The Canadian Continence Foundation. Impact of Incontinence. Available at: http://www.canadiancontinence.ca/pdfs/en-impact-of-incontinence-in-canada-2014.pdf Accessed on July 17, 2018.
3. Buckley BS, Lapitan MCM. Prevalence of urinary incontinence in men, women, and children-Current evidence: Findings of the fourth international consultation on incontinence. Urology 2010; 76(2):265-270.
4. The Canadian Continence Foundation. FAQs. Available at: http://www.canadiancontinence.ca/EN/frequently-asked-questions.php Accessed on July 12, 2018.
5. Dumoulin C, Hay-Smith EJC, Mac Habée-Séguin G. Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014; 5. Art. No.: CD005654. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD005654.pub3.
Kelly Leong is a Registered Physiotherapist, pelvic health advocate, yogi, crossfitter and self-proclaimed life-long learner.
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