If you like me are a woman in your 50s and have had children, you have likely experienced some loss of bladder control / urine control aka urinary incontinence. Maybe you experience a minor loss of urine when you sneeze, cough or laugh? This happens to me on a regular basis so I often wear pantyliners for protection when I expect that a difficult situation might arise.
The gym is one place I always come prepared because of the jumping and bouncing that goes on. Now, I am not a treadmill person, but one day recently my trainer decided it was time to change that. As I was running on the treadmill that day, I was aware that I was having some leakage, but it was not until I stopped running that I realized how bad it might be. I immediately called “time out” for a bathroom break and jumped off the treadmill.
In the washroom I discovered some major leakage… I was soaked and humiliated! Now I had to go out and face the music, so I cleaned up the best I could and walked back into the gym. I told my trainer that we were done for the day and of course he was confused. No way around it, I had to tell him what had happened. But as I was explaining, I burst into tears!
My mind had carried me back to elementary school. I was that little girl who had an accident and wet her panties and was being sent home to change. Of course all the kids back then had a great time making fun of me! In my mind I expected to be ridiculed again, but my trainer is a very compassionate man and knew just the right way to handle the situation.
This loss of control may be caused by weakened muscles around the bladder and pelvis. In addition, carrying extra weight can put pressure on the bladder. Urinary incontinence is a condition affecting millions of adults. The majority suffer in silence. Many women resign themselves to the idea that incontinence is an unavoidable consequence of having had children, aging or being overweight.
We not only put up with the physical symptoms, but the emotional pain as well. We feel isolated, ashamed and avoid social activities due to embarrassment, which may ultimately result in a loss of self-esteem.
If you or a loved one is affected by urinary incontinence, you are not alone. The National Association for Continence advises that approximately 25 million people in the US are affected and it is estimated that 75-80% of those are women. Women are 4-5 times more likely than men to have urinary incontinence problems due in large part to the trauma the body experiences during pregnancy and child birth.
Do not put your life on hold! There are products you can purchase to protect your clothing and there are exercises you can do to strengthen those weakened muscles. On YouTube there are hundreds of videos available. Just search “kegel exercises”. An example is attached below. (Thank you Michelle Kenway!)