urinary incontinence

The Top 3 Myths Told About Urinary Incontinence

Picture this: Happy hour with your closest group of friends. The drinks are delivered, and the mood is cheery. A number of topics occupy the conversation as you catch up on the recent events of each other’s lives, from promotions to parenting, romance, exercise routines, vacations, and… urinary incontinence? Hold the margaritas. Who’s talking about bladder problems? Don’t these issues only affect women of a certain age?
In a word, no. Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common problem that affects women of all ages, from collegiate athletes to new moms to trans women to women transitioning into menopause. According to the National Association for Continence, one in four women over age 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntarily—altogether, a total of approximately 18 million in the United States. Do the math, and it’s very likely the face of urinary incontinence is sitting across the table enjoying a half-priced drink and contemplating an order of bruschetta.

Identifying the Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence isn’t a disease– it’s a symptom. According to experts at Mayo Clinic, there are several types of urinary incontinence, and identifying each correctly is important in order to address the potential causes.

Type: Stress Urinary Incontinence

  • Definition: Leakage of urine when there is increased pressure on the bladder, which can happen with coughing, sneezing, laughing, or impactful exercise.
  • Causes: Lack of support and weakness of the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Potential contributing factors: pregnancy, childbirth, injury or trauma to the lower back/hips or tailbone, pelvic surgery, and deconditioning. Hip strength is also an important factor.
Type: Urge Urinary Incontinence
  • Definition: Leakage of urine when a person feels a sudden urge to urinate
  • Causes: Weak or ”under active” pelvic floor muscles, OR “Overactive” pelvic floor muscles, where the muscles are chronically held tight resulting in the shortening of the muscle and development of trigger points in both the muscle and fascia.
Type: Mixed Urinary Incontinence
  • Definition: Includes symptoms of both stress and urge urinary incontinence.
  • Causes: Varied depending on the type.
Type: Functional Urinary Incontinence
  • Definition: Occurs when the person cannot physically get to the toilet in time.
  • Contributing factors: joint pain, general muscle weakness, difficulty with mobility, and dementia/confusion.
(UI Type and causes information provided by Niki Cookson.)

Debunking Urinary Incontinence Myths

Many women believe that it is normal to have incontinence. “They think it is just an accepted part of aging,” says Laura Meihofer, PT, DPT, ATC, a pelvic floor physical therapist and certified athletic trainer, “but this is entirely not true. Just because you delivered children or are of a certain age does not mean you have a life sentence of wearing incontinence pads.”
Understanding the myths of UI is key to addressing it comprehensively.

Myth 1: Incontinence is just a normal part of aging.

Women are not destined to have urine leakage once they reach a certain age. Pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened, just like the biceps or quadriceps.

Myth 2: Childbirth causes irreversible urinary incontinence.

While women often do experience a loss of bladder control after pregnancy, it’s usually temporary and can be resolved with therapy and other interventions.

Myth 3: You just have to live with urinary incontinence.

In most cases, urinary incontinence can be greatly reduced or eliminated through therapies, medications, or, in a few cases, surgery. Unfortunately, many women continue to suffer in silence. Not only must they contend with the physical symptoms of urinary incontinence, but they also bear a great deal of emotional pain.
According to the experts, it is important to seek treatment for both sides of the issue.“Many women feel a loss of control and a great deal of embarrassment,” says Meihofer. “But they benefit greatly from addressing their issues in a safe space where they feel comfortable to share, and from receiving education and tools to feel empowered and encouraged about their outcomes.”

Solutions for Urinary Incontinence

While there is not a cure for urinary incontinence, there are many avenues for treating it. People today have access to a spectrum of interventions, including physical therapy, behavioral techniques, medications, medical devices, and, in some cases, surgical procedures.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a common, non-invasive treatment for urinary incontience that includes evaluation and treatment of joint dysfunction, muscle tightness, weakness, and muscular imbalances of the pelvis.
According to Niki Cookson, PT, DPT, an instructor of physical therapy at Mayo Clinic trained specifically in pelvic health, “The most important goal for women suffering from urinary incontienence is to optimize the health of their pelvic floor muscles. This can be done with targeted exercises to improve muscle strength and reduce faulty patterns of muscle recruitment.”Meihofer concurs. “I employ researched-based methods to improve or resolve the effects of urinary incontinence,” she says. “Beginning with hip, stomach, and gluteal strengthening, which works in conjunction with the pelvic floor muscles, then typically transitioning to behavior modification.”
Behavior modification can include monitoring or modifying the amounts and types of fluid and food we consume each day. According to Meihofer, “Eating and drinking certain things can irritate the bladder, and when bladder lining is irritated it will give us the urge to urinate. I liken it to squeezing a lemon in your eye; you have no other choice than to blink to get the irritant out of your eye.”
For some women whose symptoms don’t respond to conservative treatment, surgery may be an option. While urinary incontinence surgery is invasive and has a higher risk of complications than many other therapies, it can also provide a long-term solution in severe cases.

Resources and Recommendations

In the process of addressing urinary incontinence, knowledge is power. Knowing the statistics and scope of their issues helps people normalize their condition, experts say, giving them the confidence to open the conversation with others and discover they are not alone. If urinary incontinence is seriously impacting your life, talk to a qualified expert who will provide an unbiased review of your options.

Above all, experts say, find someone with whom you feel comfortable and who will develop a comprehensive solution or program to address your goals.

While urinary incontinence is common, it is not normal. You can find a better quality of life and relieve your symptoms of bladder incontinence with the right Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist.

Dr. Laura Meihofer’s Pelvic Floor Therapy focuses on helping patients understand the source of their condition, find balance and retrain their pelvic floor muscles to regain control of their bladder functions. Patients will learn techniques to relax or strengthen pelvic floor muscles that control bladder functions.

Want to consult with Dr. Laura Meihofer? Book a FREE 20-minute consultation HERE.

P.S. If you have any questions about symptoms of bladder incontinence or pelvic function, head over to Instagram to follow and connect in the DMs!

More content you may like: 

Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. Laura Meihofer’s LLC is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and others, as an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products Laura organically uses and trusts. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but Laura will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps her spread her message! 

Follow And Stay Connected

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.