Is it Normal to Leak When You Jump? How to Treat It?
The Usual Suspects
I remember in college when I was competitively cheerleading it was a joke among my friends that sometimes we peed a little when we tumbled. A roundoff back-handspring on a hard basketball court puts a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor, but little did I know back then.
I have seen this same joke play out in different ways such as moms crossing their legs when they sneeze and looking at their kids saying, “You did this to me!” Clinically I see it time and time again. “Do you leak when you cough, sneeze, or jump?” I ask. “Oh yes, but I’ve had 3 kids so…"
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
Stress urinary incontinence is leaking (a little or a lot) of urine with any activity that increases the pressure in your abdominal cavity such as sneezing, coughing, laughing, jumping, running, etc.
Is this common? What causes it?
It is very common with up to 30% of women experience stress urinary incontinence, but it is not normal. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of symptoms. Some include poor coordination, strength or relaxation of pelvic floor muscles, damage to the pubocervical connective tissue, urethral hyper-mobility, etc.
During pregnancy your pelvic floor has, not only the job of holding all your internal organs, but also holding a baby. This is hard work and can lead to stretching of pelvic fascia and weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. Childbirth, particularly where forceps are needed can lead to stress urinary incontinence from damage to the pelvic floor. Chronic coughing, straining when having a bowel movement, or excessive weight gain can also lead to SUI.
Is it treatable?
The good news is most of the time it is treatable! The first line of treatment is conservative management which includes lifestyle changes, pelvic floor physical therapy and/or pessaries (small device that fits into the vagina to help support a prolapse of the uterus, bladder and/or rectum). In pelvic floor physical therapy, treatment may include pelvic floor muscle strengthening, relaxation, coordination training, optimizing your body's ability to manage pressure, and strengthening surrounding musculature.
Sometimes the pelvic floor needs a bit of internal support in the form of a pessary. If all else fails, surgery may be an option for you.
It is important to normalize talking about pelvic floor health so the high percentage of people who have pelvic floor dysfunction can get the treatment they deserve. So the next time you hear someone joking about their stress urinary incontinence tell them a pelvic PT can help!
Written by Dr. Magdalen Link PT
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