Urinary incontinence: What role does my pelvic floor play?
Regardless of our age and gender, we can suffer from urinary incontinence at a time in our life. Unfortunately, it is still a prejudice that this symptom only affects elderly people.
Why does urinary incontinence occur?
Various factors contribute to the occurrence of urinary incontinence
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, some women already notice that they have urine leakage. The weight of the baby presses on the bladder and the pelvic floor and the hormones that prepare ligaments and joints for delivery weaken the muscles that control urine flow.
- Delivery: The pelvic floor can be injured during birth.
- Menopause: Many women experience bladder weakness during menopause. There are signs that the hormonal changes – a reduced level of oestrogen in particular – affect the pelvic floor and urinary tract.
- Doing sport: Some sports favor the appearance of urinary leaks. Since they put extra pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor.
What is the connection between the pelvic floor and urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence can be due to many reasons like e.g. a weak pelvic floor that is unable to keep the urethra closed, or from an overactive bladder that cause a frequent and urgent need to urinate, even if the bladder is not full.
There are different types of urinary incontinence like for example stress-, urge- and mixed. Incontinence can also be caused by a neurogenic bladder.
Urinary incontinence is a very common condition, it concerns between 3 and 6 million people in the UK, it tends to be more common in women.
We distinguish between two types of incontinence
When the expression “wet myself laughing” becomes true, it is really not pleasant. Often, this is a sign of a weak pelvic floor. Other symptoms: a physical effort like carrying heavy weights, sneezing or simply coughing can provoke urinary leaks. If at the end of a sport session you smell an unusual smell and feel wet, it is time to do something!
Efforts lead to increased abdominal pressure on the bladder. When the pelvic floor is weakened, this pressure surpasses the intensity of the sphincter’s closure and leads to involuntary urine leaks.
This pelvic muscle failure is often the consequence of giving birth. However, it can be linked to overweight or hormonal deficiency during menopause. It is the most common type of incontinence for women (51,3%)
Urge incontinence is defined by an involuntary loss of urine preceded by an urgent and unmanageable need to urinate, without having the time to reach the toilet. It can be triggered by :
- contact or sound of water
- the way back home (key in lock syndrome)
- caffein (energy drinks, coffee or tea) (irritates the inside of the bladder)
- drinking too much and even too little
16,8% of women suffering from incontinence have urge incontinence.
Sometimes there are symptoms from both stress and urge urinary incontinence, this type of incontinence is called mixed urinary incontinence. About 1 incontinent woman out of 3 (31,9% of cases) has mixed incontinence.
To avoid incontinence problem, you can train your pelvic floor and do Kegels.