Are you wetting yourself?
1 in 3 women wet themselves. 1 in 9 men wet themselves. Between 1 in 10 people have issues with bowel control. Surprised at how high these figures are? Incontinence is a taboo subject for a lot of people but without talking about it, many will clearly be suffering alone thinking they have nowhere to turn or that this is actually a normal part of life. How can this be rectified? Pelvic floor retraining. Now men, please don’t switch off here, shut your laptop or put your phone down. Don’t think that you don’t have a pelvic floor because YOU DO.
What is Incontinence?
Incontinence can range from a panic at needing the loo and worrying you won’t make it in time, to leaking a tiny dribble to peeing a cup-full prematurely. It can be at the back passage with poor bowel control too. You want to go to the toilet but can’t get there in time and have an accident.
What is Pelvic Floor?
Women who have had babies will have heard the midwife tell them about the importance of pelvic floor retraining after birth but do you really know why? During a vaginal birth, the pressures exerted and the potential for an episiotomy will severely weaken the pelvic floor musculature. Many women who have had a c-section delivery may think they are exempt from needing to retrain these muscles. Far from it. The increasing weight of the baby during pregnancy and the hormonal changes undertaken put stresses on the pelvic floor, all resulting in weakness and leakage.
You may have heard of women saying “don’t make me laugh too hard, I’ll wet myself, “I can’t jump on a trampoline with my child because I’ll leak” or “I can’t run after my child because I’ll wet myself”. Plenty of women think that this is normal or “just what happens” or is part and parcel of having a baby. For a few weeks after birth, yes this might be so but longer than that? Nope! Not normal.
There are several risk categories associated with incontinence. These include men and women over the age of 40, people who are hypermobile and people with back pain. Women who have had a baby or those who drink alcohol or caffeine are all particularly at risk.
How do you retrain the Pelvic Floor?
Retraining your pelvic floor can be very simple but it is often a very slow process and one which many people give up on because they have not yet seen an improvement. I am often asked how to contract pelvic floor. The best analogies are: imagine you’re holding in a fart. Imagine you’re sitting on the toilet and someone calls your name while you’re mid-flow so you stop temporarily and answer them so you can hear each other before continuing to pee. For men, lifting your testicles to your spectacles is helpful in understanding what the heck they should be doing. The recommended guidelines are to be able to sustain a 10 sec hold and 10 quick contractions 3 x a day for 3 consecutive months. If you are still having problems, you ought to consult a specialist as you may have a pelvic floor dysfunction and need other intervention.
We have a dedicated ante-natal physiotherapist here who sees such issues weekly. If you have any questions, we are always happy to lend specialist support, offer advice or book you in to assess things further. Remember, the pelvic floor helps with continence but also helps ease back pain so retraining them is essential for many many people!