Urinary incontinence tends to strike when you least expect it. Whether you accidentally run away laughing or feel the sudden urge to go at the worst possible time, the anxiety of not knowing when your next accident might happen can, naturally, have a major impact on how you feel. in your body, both physically and mentally.
If you’ve dealt with this problem, rest assured that it’s completely treatable, as long as you see a doctor as soon as possible. Once you have an open conversation about your symptoms, you’ll likely discuss an area of the body called the pelvic floor and how its proper functioning is essential to maintaining your urinary muscles, including those in your bladder. , in perfect condition. form.
How does the pelvic floor influence urinary incontinence?
First, a little 101: The pelvic floor is a hammock-like group of muscles that stretch across the lower pelvis. With help from the surrounding tissues, the pelvic floor holds the bladder, urethra, bowels, rectum, and reproductive organs like the uterus and vagina where they belong, depending on the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is why your pelvic floor strength is so crucial, Rachel Benjamin, TPD, a licensed physical therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, tells SELF. « Your pelvic floor is constantly changing throughout your life, » she says, so it’s so important to be aware of its role in stabilizing different parts of your body.
When the pelvic floor muscles are doing their job, you can hold your urine when you need to and go to the bathroom when you’re ready. If these muscles are compromised in some way, for example if they become too tight, too weak or overstretched, then urinary incontinence can develop. Farzeen Firoozi, MDthe director of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says SELF.
The two most common types of urinary incontinence are stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and urge incontinence (overactive bladder). SUI occurs when some kind of force — a laugh, cough, sneeze, or hard deadlift, for example — puts too much pressure on the bladder or abdomen. In turn, the sphincter muscles of the urethra, which help control the flow of urine, release and open a little, causing leakage.
Urge incontinence, on the other hand, is characterized by a sudden strong urge to pee, no matter how much urine you hold in, depending on the United States National Library of Medicine. “The bladder almost develops its own brain and signals itself to contract,” says Dr. Firoozi. Many factors can cause an overactive bladder, including certain infections, bladder stones, neurological problems, and nerve damage. in many cases, it is difficult to identify a specific cause.
Beyond leaking urine, other signs of pelvic floor dysfunction may include frequent urination, constipation, painful urination, painful intercourse, lower back pain, or feeling of heaviness in any part of your pelvic region.
What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?
Many things can affect the health of your pelvic floor muscles, but here are the important things to consider, according to the NIH: