I’m sure you’ve seen the advertisements that say, “Stay on top of your game with (insert name of incontinence product),” or “I can finally enjoy the moment,” and “Feel more natural!” I particularly like the last one; what could feel more natural than wearing a pad or diaper? How about not needing to wear anything other than normal underwear! The truth is, more than a quarter of women and 16% of men experience occasional bladder leakage. The good news is they may not need to.

restroom signHave you ever felt like restroom signs should look like this? Again, the urgent need to get to a toilet is not an uncommon sensation, but it can be controlled with the right treatment. Incontinence treatment extends beyond medications. Life’s Work Physical Therapy is happy to offer help for people experiencing incontinence.

Most women only think about pelvic floor muscle control when they hear the words “pelvic floor,” or perhaps during childbirth classes. Most men seem blissfully unaware that they even have a pelvic floor until something goes awry. Now, wetting your pants won’t kill you but the embarrassment alone is horrifying, and it can cause people to avoid physical activity to prevent leakage. Inactivity contributes to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis and … well, you see where I’m going with this.

I often hear people say, “I’m not really incontinent, I just leak a little.” Urinary incontinence is not normal (and not uncommon). Leaking even a little means that you are incontinent! Because many people, especially older women, believe that leaking is a natural consequence of the aging process, and particularly of motherhood, far too few seek help for this problem. Open communication about incontinence is the easiest way to challenge the (inaccurate) belief that leaking is a natural consequence of motherhood and aging. It doesn’t need to be. Retraining these muscles can help reduce or eliminate incontinence. If those who treat incontinence were as vocal and visible as the companies who sell incontinence products, more people would be aware of the issue (and probably bored hearing about it!)

Educating people that pelvic floor muscle training is easy may help them start healthier habits for themselves. And, if we mention that better control over the pelvic floor produces better sexual response, we may start to break down the barriers for those seeking help. Studies show that people who comply with pelvic floor muscle training programs demonstrate improvement in their symptoms.

I’ve heard people say they don’t feel comfortable seeking physical therapy help for bladder leakage issues because it’s embarrassing, or the idea of an internal examination disturbs them. It’s frequently possible to achieve effective bladder control without having to remove a stitch of clothing! If you have incontinence, or even “just a little leak,” there are conservative solutions available.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon area and have not yet seen a physical therapist for incontinence, please contact us at 503-295-2585 or visit www.lifesworkpt.com. For those outside of Oregon, visit apta.org and click on “Find a PT” to get started with physical therapy, and read our blog on Find a Good PT. Please feel free to email your feedback to info@lifesworkpt.com.