What is Pelvic Floor? Does it Relate to Incontinence?
You feel the pressure on your bladder, and start making your way to the bathroom from your office. About two meters from the door, you feel a slight trickle of urine down your leg – why can't you hold your bladder?
Urinary incontinence affects around 15-million American women or 17% of the adult population. Incontinence is both frustrating and embarrassing, and the severity of the condition varies from person to person.
The severity of the disorder ranges from an occasional leak when you sneeze or cough, to having a strong urge to go to the bathroom and failing to make it to the toilet without leaking. Urinary incontinence occurs due to several reasons, but it's certainly not part of the normal aging process.
While incontinence is more common in women as they age, it's not something that you have to learn to live with for the rest of your life. One of the most common reasons for developing incontinence comes from a weak or damaged pelvic floor.
What Is Your Pelvic Floor?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments in the pelvis. The pelvic floor is responsible for supporting the bladder and uterus, and when it weakens, you can experience a drop in the bladder. As a result, the symptoms of urinary incontinence between to appear.
You can also experience damage and trauma that cause pelvic floor dysfunctions. What is pelvic floor dysfunction? It's a term to describe issues like incontinence and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
What are the Types of Urinary Incontinence?
There are five kinds of urinary incontinence. Let's unpack each of the types and show you the differences.
Stress Incontinence – With this incontinence, you experience leaking when laughing, coughing, or sneezing.
Urge Incontinence – This type results in an intense, sudden urge to urinate, followed by uncontrolled leaking of urine. People suffering from the effects of urge incontinence may need to urinate often, and they may have to get up several times during the night to pee.
Urge incontinence occurs due to minor health disorders, such as an infection. It may be a sign of something more severe, such as diabetes or neurological disease.
Overflow Incontinence – With this type, you feel like the bladder is never empty. As a result, you experience a constant dribble of urine.
Functional Incontinence – With this type, you can't get to the toilet fast enough before experiencing a leak. This type is common in seniors with conditions like arthritis that prevent them from moving quickly.
Mixed Incontinence – You experience a combination of the previous four types.
What are the Causes of Urinary Incontinence?
As mentioned, urinary incontinence is not a stand-alone disease or disorder; it's a symptom of an underlying health problem. Incontinence can occur due to a weakened pelvic floor or lifestyle habits, like drinking too much coffee and smoking cigarettes.
Temporary urinary incontinence describes a condition where you experience the bladder's overstimulation, increasing the volume of urine you produce during the day and night. Some of these foods and drinks include the following.
- Alcohol and coffee
- Caffeinated sodas and beverages
- Carbonated beverages and sparkling mineral water
- Chili peppers
- Artificial sweetener
- High-dose vitamin C
- Blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, and sedatives
Urinary incontinence may also occur due to underlying health disorders, such as the following.
- Urinary tract infection
- Hormonal changes
- Neurological disorders
Is Urinary Incontinence Treatable?
Yes, in most cases, urinary incontinence is entirely treatable. If you notice the signs of your condition, visit your doctor for advice.
They'll recommend you clean up your diet and start training your pelvic floor. By getting the strength back in your pelvic floor, you have better control over your pelvis and bladder.
How Do I Treat Urinary Incontinence?
One of the best treatments for urinary incontinence involves the use of Kegels to strengthen the pelvic floor. Developed by Dr. Arnold Kegel in the 1940s, Kegel exercises require you to locate the pelvic floor.
Close your eyes and imagine squeezing the same muscles you use to stop the flow of urine. Squeeze and pull the muscles and ligaments up toward your navel.
Hold the top position for three to five seconds, and release. Practice this treatment for 10-reps, at least twice, and day, and you should notice an improvement in your incontinence symptoms.