A silent problem that affects many young women
Urinary incontinence – or accidentally leaking wee – is a silent issue rarely spoken about. Yet up to 30% of us suffer from accidental leaking when we cough, laugh or exercise, due to weak pelvic floor muscles.
Until I got pregnant it didn’t even cross my mind that urinary incontinence can affect active and healthy women. Of course we’ve all heard of practising Kegels during pregnancy. But how many of us have actually done them?
IT OFTEN STARTS JUST AFTER YOU’VE HAD A BABY
It often starts just after you’ve had your baby. At first, you might think it’s just an accident. After all you’ve just given birth and your pelvic floor was under a great strain. But then it happens again, and again, when you cough, laugh or lift a shopping bag off the floor. Exercise classes prove challenging not because you aren’t fit, but because jumping makes you wee accidentally.
But you don’t have to put up with it.
WHY ARE MY PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES WEAK?
Your pelvic floor is a bundle of muscles and ligaments that act like a hammock to support your bladder, womb and bowel. These muscles not only help you control your wee, but also squeeze when you cough, laugh, strain or – have sex.
Weak pelvic floor disturbs many aspects of your health
It disturbs your emotional, physical and sexual health. A weak pelvic floor affects not only your underwear.
It touches most aspects of your life: emotions, causing anxiety and embarrassment, affects your physical health, lowers your self-esteem and can even disturb your sex life.
During pregnancy and labour (whether you had a normal delivery or a c-section) these muscles are forced to stretch and do a tremendous amount of work. This unfortunately can leave them weakened. Weak muscles can’t support your bladder properly and this is how you end up with accidents.
IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO ABOUT URINARY INCONTINENCE?
Of course there is!
The good news is you don’t have to put up with it. Although common, urinary incontinence can be dealt with. The pelvic floor is nothing other than a bundle of muscles that can (and should) be exercised. Give it a few simple exercises, a few minutes at a time, just persevere and soon you will notice a difference.
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will not only allow you laugh freely again, but will also enhance your sex life!
Imagine a person who’s never run in their life signing up for a 10k charity run.
At first, she is out of breath having run just a couple of meters. After a few weeks she finishes a 1k run. Her confidence increases and she’s totally into it, heading for a run every morning. A few months later she completes the charity 10k race and signs up for a marathon next year.
Your pelvic floor is no different to our runner at the beginning of her journey. The pelvic muscles are simply weak. Any sudden strain, like coughing or jumping, will test its limits. But give it a few simple exercises, a few minutes at a time, just persevere and soon you will notice improvement!
LEARN IN A FEW SIMPLE STEPS HOW TO EXERCISE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES
Here are a few tips that will help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and you’ll able to laugh freely again.
1. LOCATE YOUR PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES
When you go for a wee, try to stop the flow briefly – did you feel the muscles tighten? These are are your pelvic floor muscles.
2. SLOW AND FAST CONTRACTIONS
Both slow and fast contractions are equally important. Do them regularly and you will soon notice the difference!
3. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Get into the habit of doing them when:
- waiting for your coffee to brew
- brushing your teeth
- standing in a queue
- watching your favourite tv show
4. DO THEM ANYTIME AND ANYWHERE YOU WANT
Pelvic floor exercises don’t have to be time consuming.
You can do them pretty much anywhere and anytime you like!
Tip: Combine pelvic floor exercises with glute bridges and shape your butt and abs at the same time.
Lie on back with your feet flat on the floor.
Tighten your belly muscles and lift your hips up off the floor.
Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles twice in fast contractions.
Breathe throughout the exercise.
Slowly lower yourself to the floor, one vertebra at a time.
Repeat 10 times.