Pee problems are more common than you think

Pee problems are more common than you think

Have you ever noticed a little accidental leakage when you head to the restroom or the gym?

While many are embarrassed to admit it, urinary incontinence is more common than you might think. In fact, a recent study found that 10.3 percent of women between the ages of 19 and 30 suffer from urinary incontinence.

The study, which was published in the Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery journal, was based on questionnaire data from women enrolled at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. The researchers surveyed 1,092 women with a mean age of 23.5. The purpose of the study was to determine the prevalence and awareness of young women’s understanding of pelvic floor disorders in order to determine prevention strategies. They discovered that of all the women surveyed, women between the ages of 25 and 30 had the most awareness and understanding of pelvic-floor disorders.

So what is urinary incontinence?

There are two different types of UI: urge and stress. Urge incontinence is when your bladder empties before you are over a toilet, while stress is when if even a small amount of pressure is applied to your bladder, urine leaks out. For some people, something as small as sneezing or laughing can cause some leakage.

Oftentimes, urinary incontinence happens during exercise. In fact, UI affects many female athletes.

“In my world, as a sports medicine physician who treats mostly female athletes, pelvic-floor dysfunction is an epidemic,” says Dr. Kara Vormittag, a sports medicine physician at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

“The background behind why pelvic floor disorders begin is not completely understood, but it is said to have something to do with anterior pelvic tilt,” explains Dr. Vormittag. “It’s also a lot of overload; nowadays, athletes are training harder for longer, and they train their muscles to keep up with that, but not always the pelvic floor muscles. Another big culprit is constipation.”

It’s important to remember that your core muscles go deeper that you think, and you need to be keeping your pelvic floor muscles strong and in shape. Doing this can help to prevent urinary incontinence and also injury from exercise and sports. Dr. Vormittag refers to the pelvic floor as the “forgotten core muscles.”

Many people have heard that doing exercises like Kegels can help to prevent and treat pelvic floor disorders, which is true, if done correctly. “The first step to treating a pelvic floor disorder would be to report it to your primary care physician,” says Dr. Vormittag. “Then, finding a qualified pelvic floor therapist is the most important thing you can do, so they can help guide you on how to strengthen those muscles.”

“In female athletes, pelvic floor disorders can lead to many issues, the most common one being urinary incontinence,” according to Dr. Vormittag. “Other than urinary incontinence, pelvic floor disorders can cause sexual discomfort and pain during sex.”

Yet, many young adult females don’t feel comfortable bringing this topic up initially. “If your primary care doctor doesn’t ask you if you are experiencing any of these issues, don’t be embarrassed to bring it up and to talk about it,” recommends Dr. Vormittag. “There is no reason to suffer in silence when treatment options are available.”

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Comments

15 Comments

  1. What about men? I get up several times during the night!!

    • Health enews editor August 18, 2016 at 11:00 am · Reply

      Thanks for your question, Phil. The best advice would be to talk to your physician who will likely refer you to a physical therapist, urologist or another specialist if they think there is an issue. Thanks for reading!

  2. That was very interesting, but how about telling us what the exercises are?

    • Health enews editor August 18, 2016 at 11:03 am · Reply

      Good question Joyce. The idea is to draw your lower abdominals inward and pull your pelvic floor up. For example you can lay on your back and do single-leg raises, but again make sure to draw your lower abs in and pull your pelvic floor up. Another good exercise is to get on all fours and lift the opposite leg and arm. Check with your park district, they may have pelvic floor classes. Park Ridge Park District offers a class called “Pelvic & Core Training.” According to their website, this class will strengthen your pelvic floor (improve bladder control) and strengthen the glutes with movements from Yoga/ Pilates and using a Pelvicore ball. You can also do Kegels, but you need to make sure to do them correctly. Check if your doctor has a monitor that you can use to test if you are doing them correctly. If you are not improving, ask your doctor to refer you to a reputable pelvic floor physical therapist. Thanks for reading!

  3. I’m a senior, who like Joyce, would try a few exercises, if you’d send them.

  4. How about women OVER 55?

    • Health enews editor August 18, 2016 at 11:05 am · Reply

      Thanks for the question, Gayle. Urinary incontinence is most common after menopause. While it usually starts earlier, it worsens as we age. The goal of this article is to show that young women have this problem too and to encourage them to address it early on and not to wait. If you experiencing any symptoms, talk to your doctor about them and ask them to refer you to a specialist. There are a number of treatment options that can help. Thanks for reading!

  5. Good point Joyce. Aside from Kegels what else?

  6. I can do Kegals in my sleep. So this is my research with the help of my urologist:
    1.There is an implant for people with severe incontinence. There are some tests to do first to see if it will work for you. If you elect to do this, they put an implant in your buttock which stimulates the nerves at intervals so you can make it to the bathroom. It is very helpful for some people
    2.Also my urologist has a strengthening program where a probe is inserted into the vagina and it makes sure you are exercising the correct muscles when doing Kegals. It has a very good success rate. Unfortunately, it is expensive and requires a commitment of time for appointments. My insurance won’t cover it.
    3.So I’ve taken medicine for several years.
    4.Surgical sling. I’m 62 and really don’t want to have surgery.
    5.Pee proof underwear.

  7. How about making comments for women over 80? Are there exercises that would be beneficial for that age group?

  8. I am a senior who began exercising after retirement, I am very interested in strengthening pelvic floor muscles

  9. I did see a pelvic floor therapist for 9 sessions. One of the easiest exercises she gave me was forced exhalation. Take a deep breath (your stomach should extend). As you forcefully exhale through your mouth, tighten your pelvic muscles. Do this 3 times. This is easy to do everyday/several times a day. It helps. I do this at the gym once before beginning any exercise where I had experienced leakage before undergoing therapy. I am in my 60’s.

  10. I definitely think that it is something that doesn’t get talked about often enough – it occurs in both women and men of all ages. It is important to know the causes and what you can do about it. Great information, thanks for sharing!

  11. For anyone who might be interested, there is a new Kegel trainer product available called the “Elvie” that is designed to help women of all ages (sorry guys!) strengthen their pelvic floor muscles. It wirelessly connects to a smart phone or tablet and guides the user through a series of Kegel exercises by turning it into a game. What makes it different from other trainers is that you can see on your smart phone how well you are performing each of the exercises. And as your performance improves, new exercises are introduced. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and have seen a significant improvement.

  12. Marilyn Benjamin August 24, 2017 at 7:25 pm · Reply

    What happen when you pee and it feels like you are in a hurry and just be a little pee comes out

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.