Have you ever been exercising and felt urine sneak out? Maybe you coughed or jumped and felt a quick release of urine afterwards . Urinary leakage during or after physical activity because of increased pressure is called Stress Urinary Incontinence. For women, it’s the most common type of urinary incontinence, but most don’t want to talk about it or share their embarrassing struggles. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to live with it! We’ll explore the causes of stress urinary incontinence and how Yoder Physical Therapy can help you regain your confidence with pelvic therapy solutions.
What is SUI?
The results of stress urinary incontinence are the same – bladder leakage – but there can be a few different causes. Pelvic floor muscles can be too weak, tight, or not coordinated, which puts your bladder at risk for leaks. With higher level activities, it creates more pressure on the pelvic floor. If the PF muscles are not able to respond to the pressure appropriately, this will result in urinary leakage. It’s like a soda can; when the seal is intact, you can shake the can all you want (high pressure) without any liquid leaking out. When the seal gets dented or compromised (pelvic floor dysfunction), the liquid can drip or flow out. Take the seal away, and there’s no stopping it. Unlike a soda can, you can repair your pelvic floor muscles to stop bladder leaks.
Four Common Causes
What causes stress incontinence can vary from person to person. Some causes are out of our control, while others can be helped by improving health habits.
Pregnancy & Childbirth
During pregnancy, your bladder is under more pressure than ever. That pressure can cause stress urinary incontinence both during and after pregnancy. Your pelvic floor muscles will be especially weakened after childbirth. The weight put on your bladder while pregnant can cause lasting damage that is only hurt by weakened support muscles. Since up to half of women experience incontinence during pregnancy, it’s never too early to explore strengthening methods like physical therapy exercises.
Vaginal births aren’t the only cause of weakened pelvic floor muscles. In the US, about one in three babies are born via C-section. While it’s becoming more common, a C-section is really a serious surgery that takes weeks of healing. That can be hard to do when you have a new life to take care of. Pair an incision with weakened or damaged muscles, and you may experience ongoing incontinence.
As we age, our muscles can both weaken and/ or tighten. Women start to lose elasticity in connective tissue as early as their 30s, so you can start to experience symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. However, it is never too late to improve your pelvic floor strength.
Coughing & Sneezing
Illnesses that result in chronic coughing or straining can put stress on your pelvic floor muscles. Both coughing and sneezing can damage tissue over time, so chronic illnesses are especially harmful. Increased weight can further add pressure to the pelvic floor, which can be difficult if you already have a weakened pelvic floor from other issues. Smoking has severe effects on your health, one of which is a chronic cough. By smoking, you could indirectly cause stress urinary incontinence down the line, among other health issues.
Stress incontinence appears in obese patients more frequently as more studies are done. This is because extra weight can cause stress on both the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, both essential to avoiding incontinence.
Tips to Improve Pelvic Floor Strength
If you’re experiencing stress urinary incontinence, you’re not alone! Finding the right tools to improve your pelvic floor strength and reduce leaks can set you up for success.
Trying to exercise while experiencing sudden leaks can be frustrating and disheartening. You might be holding your breath in hopes you don’t, but that will have the opposite effect. Your diaphragm can assist your pelvic floor while breathing deeply during exercise.
Stand Up Straight
Proper posture – shoulders stacked over hips – allows your skeleton and muscles to work how they’re supposed to. Bad posture and a weakened pelvic floor work against you in preventing leaks.
Walk This Way
Just like posture, a correct stride will let your muscles do what they’re supposed to do and might even help strengthen them. When you walk on the balls of your feet, you will use your leg muscles to support your body instead of the weight falling on your bladder or pelvic floor.
Pelvic floor therapy with Yoder Physical Therapy can alleviate symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. Getting help with incontinence can be embarrassing, but you’re in a helpful and judgment-free zone with Dr. Anjelica Martinez-Yoder. You’re welcome to freely ask any questions or voice concerns, and you’ll get thorough answers. Dr. Anjelica is well-versed in pelvic floor therapy during any stage of pregnancy and even before. Learn expert advice to improve your pelvic floor and say goodbye to panty liners or incontinence underwear. If you choose the therapy option, you can get personalized exercises, behavioral tools, and all the information you need about stress urinary incontinence.