Spring is in the air and. . . guess what?
It may be the reason many of us find ourselves accidentally wetting ourselves more than we’d like.
There are some reasons why this occurs:
- All that pollen floating around makes us more susceptible to allergies like asthma and hayfever and their associated coughing and sneezing fits.
- The cuddly layer of body fat that kept us warm over winter might be weighing us down.
- Many of us decide now’s the time to get our bodies into shape for summer.
These three factors have one thing in common; they can each put our pelvic floors under undue stress and exacerbate stress incontinence.
So what is stress incontinence? It’s the urine leakage that happens when we place too much stress on our pelvic floor muscles.
These are the trampoline-like muscles suspended from the tailbone to the public bone and across both sitting bones. As well as holding up our intestines, bladder and other pelvic organs, they help close off our urinary and anal sphincters.
The reason we leak urine comes down to physics; it’s the result of a greater downward force on the bladder (caused by the sneezing, coughing or jogging) than the closure force of the urinary sphincter.
So, how do we survive spring without the leakage?
In most cases it’s simply a matter of strengthening our pelvic floor muscles so they’re able to handle the added stress and keep those sphincters shut tight.
Like any other muscles, our pelvic floor muscles need to be exercised regularly to become stronger.
Here are a few other tips to get you through spring:
- If you have allergies, hayfever, asthma or any other condition that causes chronic coughing or sneezing, go to your doctor for treatment.
- Try to keep your weight within the healthy weight range. Weight loss significantly reduces your chances of urinary incontinence, with research showing that losing just five to 10 per cent of body weight reducing the incidence of urinary incontinence by around 70 percent. In fact, weight loss has been shown to be an effective treatment for urinary incontinence.
- When you start your fitness regime, try to avoid high-impact or resistance exercises like lifting, running or lunges that place undue stress on your pelvic floor. Of course, if you have a strong pelvic floor, there’s no reason to avoid these activities, but in the meantime, there are many exercises you can do that won’t strain your pelvic floor. Go here to check these out, or download the free Pelvic Floor Safe Exercises app from the App Store or Google Play.
- Constipation is another avoidable condition that can significantly exacerbate incontinence. Straining on the toilet also stresses the pelvic floor, causing the muscles to stretch and weaken.
- Download this brochure Good Bladder Habits For Everyone it outlines the five steps to healthy bladders.
Remember, it’s not normal to have bladder leakage – light or otherwise.
In the majority of cases it’s preventable and quite treatable – often by taking simple, preventative steps.
For advice and information on incontinence, bladder or bowel issues, phone the free, confidential National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66), which is staffed by continence nurses and managed by the Continence Foundation of Australia. Or go here for more information.
Have you noticed your bladder leakage getting worse around spring? Please share in the comments below.