There’s Nothing to Feel Embarrassed About!
Bladder leakage and urinary incontinence are incredibly common conditions, and not just among women recovering after childbirth. Unfortunately, many women choose to remain quiet about their bladder control problems, leading to a silent epidemic of untreated incontinence and private shame.
There’s really no good reason for this silence; those struggling with urinary incontinence are in good company. In fact, approximately one in five women will experience some level of incontinence or leakage, and the number rises to one in three among women who have had children.
Most individuals suffering from urinary incontinence find some comfort in the use of various discreet incontinence products. While protective adult diapers might have been somewhat bulky and conspicuous in the past, today’s specialized undergarments are thinner, more flexible, and better suited to an active lifestyle. For some women, the use of specialized panty liners and pads also help to capture leakage when it occurs.
Despite the variety of leakage protection products on the market, many women are usually left wishing they could make the problem go away altogether. Fortunately, there is one easy solution that helps to treat the problem at its source: pelvic floor muscle exercises.
Controlling Leakage with Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that stretch between the front of the pelvic bone and the tailbone, effectively keeping the abdominal organs in their proper place. These muscles are in direct control of the bladder, rectum, small intestine, and uterus.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises—or PFME—are one of the simplest and most effective ways to regain significant bladder control after giving birth. Often referred to as Kegel exercises (or simply “Kegels”), these exercises target and tone the muscles of the pelvic floor that control the flow of urine. As a result, women who regularly perform these bladder control exercises find themselves regaining control over leakage and urinary incontinence.
Basic pelvic floor muscle exercises are actually quite simple:
- Identify where the muscles are that you would use to start/stop your urine midstream.
- Tighten those muscles as though you are stopping the flow of urine. Hold them tight for three seconds, then release.
- Repeat 10-15 times per session for three or more sessions per day. Add an additional second of hold time each week.
Pelvic floor exercises are not only easy to perform, but they’re also easy to do in any location, during almost any other activity. These simple, discreet exercises can be done at work, while waiting in line at the pharmacy, during a shower, while driving, while chatting with friends at the coffee shop, etc. Plus, there are no outward signs that you’re performing the exercises (so long as you keep a straight face), so no one will even know you’re doing them! It’s important to remember that many women do not perform these exercises consistently or properly, so they don’t get to experience the full benefits. This is an important reason to pay attention to how to correctly execute them!
After several weeks of performing regular Kegel exercises, the muscles of the bladder become stronger and capable of closing off the urethra more easily on demand. As a result, sneezing, coughing, jogging, and other activities become “safe” once more.