When I heard that this week was “World Continence Week” I chuckled. Is there seriously a day or week to recognize every condition or situation known to man?
I guess World Continence Week was why this adult diaper cartoon was floating around Facebook.
Haha. Adult diapers.
I know my friends and I laugh about this topic a lot.
“Sorry kids, can’t join you on the trampoline. Haha…I pee myself when I jump” (or laugh, or cough…)
I was laughing, but this cartoon made me pause. If my girlfriends and I suffer from stress induced incontinence now when we are still young and strong, what will it be like when we are old and weak?
The slogan of World Continence Week is Managing the Mother Load, referring to the load pregnancy places on the pelvic floor, as well as the other burdens we mothers must balance, which can result in us not prioritizing our own health needs. In my case, I’ve had a mild (but very annoying) problem with incontinence for at least 6 years, yet I have never once mentioned it to my gynecologist. I guess I just thought it was an incurable, natural consequence of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth or my fault for not doing enough Kegels during my pregnancies.
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is defined as involuntary leakage of urine following exertion, and childbirth is considered the most common cause of SUI.
As the baby grows, its weight and the pregnant uterus produce anatomical changes to the bladder and urethra. There is also increased mobility of the bladder due to hormonal changes in pregnancy, which can also affect the pelvic floor complex. Some studies show that incontinence can occur as a result of pregnancy alone, regardless of whether the baby is delivered with a lot of pushing through vaginal delivery or through c-section. If you’ve carried a baby, you may have “my” problem.
So what can we do?
Well, the first step recommended by experts is to see your doctor (GYN or primary care for example) for evaluation and diagnosis. I am not going to make a special appointment for this, but I will talk to my awesome doctor during my next annual visit. I’m assuming he will refer me to an outpatient pelvic physical therapy program, which I’m totally up for if I am not able to successfully treat myself with pelvic floor exercises.
I just ordered this video and these vaginal cones, after reading that Kegels using weights are more effective for increasing vaginal floor strength. There are many You Tube videos offering Kegel exercise instruction. From what I gather, it can take several months of daily exercising “down there” to see improvement. I’ll let you know how it goes.
If you are pregnant or a new mom, be aware that incontinence is a very common problem. I hope you won’t wait 6 years like I have to investigate solutions.