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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

More Confident in 2015

by Dr. Jennifer Bimmel, DPT

Just because urinary incontinence is common, does not mean it is normal, nor should it be something you have to “just live with.”

Let’s talk specifically about stress urinary incontinence. What is it? Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is the loss of urine upon physical exertion such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. This form of incontinence may occur due to weak pelvic floor muscles contributing to the inability to support the bladder and urethra. Some risk factors for having weak pelvic floor muscles include female gender, aging, childbirth, and athletics. But again, just because this is a common occurrence within these groups does not mean this is something you should just have to learn to deal with. Shown through the 2010 systematic review by Price et al, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) boasts significant evidence in improving SUI. What is PFMT? It’s “Kegels.”  It is important to note that 40 percent of women performing Kegels do so incorrectly. To prevent ineffective PFMT, it would be valuable to refer one to a qualified physical therapist who can ensure patients/clients are performing pelvic floor exercises with proper form during a minimum of at least one formal training session.

“Okay, so now I’m listening,” you say. “I may be doing Kegels wrong? Or, I don’t even know what Kegels are? Are you telling me I can go to a physical therapist to exercise my lady parts?” Yes.

During a physical therapy session with a pelvic floor specialist or women’s health specialist, you will learn all about urinary incontinence. There are more forms of it than just SUI, such as urge urinary incontinence and functional urinary incontinence. Women will be educated on the anatomy of the pelvic floor and how the urinary system works. You will get a holistic approach to helping you improve and cure your urinary incontinence. A discussion about nutrition (are your daily fluids irritating your bladder?) and your toileting habits (how often are you going to the bathroom?). And of course we’ll take a look at how your muscles are functioning. Are you able to contract your pelvic floor muscles? How long can you hold this contraction for? Can you do quick contractions? Can you perform PFMT in a variety of positions? These are extremely important muscles responsible for supporting your internal organs and having bladder/bowel movements. We’ll take you through an individual treatment approach specific to your needs. Depending on severity of UI, most individuals I work with have approximately six treatment sessions, just once per week. So before you stock up on more pads, fill up your medicine cabinet, or elect for surgery, try a conservative, more empowering approach to addressing urinary incontinence with physical therapy!

If you would like more information, visit us online or call our Ladysmith office at 715-532-3439 and ask for Jennifer!

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