In a busy cafe two good friends meet for their usual coffee on a Friday before school pick-up, often the only time they get to sit and relax and just talk openly about what is going on in their busy lives. You might imagine the conversation would fall to the latest "it" drama series on TV or exciting holiday plans, but no, it goes like this in a whispered voice "I am still wetting myself every time I cough or sneeze. Wee Jenny is 2 years old now, should it not have stopped by now?".
Unfortunately this is a conversation that probably happens between women in every small cafe every day. According to the Urology Care Foundation, 1 in 3 women will suffer from Stress Incontinence at some point in their lives. But why?
Stress Incontinence is often caused by weakened Pelvic Floor muscles not supporting the urethra to along with other structures function properly and achieve continence.
The most obvious cause for this is the fact that we make ALL THE PEOPLE!
About 85% of all women in the U.S have had at least one child by the end of their childbearing years. The Pelvic Floor muscles stretch due to the pressure exerted by the baby during late pregnancy as well as childbirth itself. In addition, there is a change in the enzymes and hormones your body releases that makes ligaments more elastic
Another common reason is Menopause. In the case of post-menopausal women, they tend to suffer with worsening urinary incontinence caused by the decrease in estrogen levels in the body causing thinning of the vaginal tissues along with weakening of the pelvic floor muscles due to aging.
Now my top reason. They don't tell us how to prevent or deal with Stress Incontinence!
Women are told all the time that we need to eat healthy, that we need to exercise, we need to practice mindfulness, but a very important part of our body is often left out! The Vagina...
You might hear the term kegel exercise for the first time when your midwife mentions it to you quickly during a antenatal check-up. If you are very lucky you might see a physio after you deliver your baby that tells you about Pelvic Floor exercises or even during a Gynae appointment, but that is it.
There is very little mainstream education for women about what the Pelvic Floor is, how it works and how to take care of it to prevent future complications such as Incontinence, Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Sexual Dysfunction. Realistically you need to be performing daily pelvic floor exercises. You have to know how to properly co-ordinate your pelvic floor contractions and how to incorporate that into your regular exercise and daily functions.
So what do we do about this? We talk and we educate ourselves! We need to start having open conversations with our daughters, sisters, friends and healthcare providers about Incontinence and Pelvic Floor function. Remember "Vagina" is not a bad word. Women's bodies endure so much during life, lets give it all the tools it needs to come out strong on the other side.
To find more information about how to strengthen and future-proof your Pelvic Floor, click the button below.