You are pregnant or have been a mother for a long time. You are at the height of happiness. However, a problem is spoiling your life and preventing you from living fully. During certain efforts, you lose urine. This is terribly embarrassing for you and you don’t dare tell anyone about it. What if you were suffering from urinary incontinence during effort? Here’s how.
What is urinary stress incontinence?
Our pelvic floor is made up of muscles that support our internal organs. When these muscles are weak, urinary leakage can occur. Also, when the urethral sphincter is not as effective, incontinence can occur. If this occurs when you make an effort that puts pressure on the abdomen (sports, coughing, laughing, sneezing…), it is called stress urinary incontinence.
Nearly one woman in five suffers from this problem. And contrary to popular belief, it is not only older women who suffer. In fact, did you know that 12% of women aged 20 to 29 suffer from urinary incontinence? In the majority of cases, it is stress urinary incontinence. However, this subject is still taboo, since the vast majority of women concerned do not talk about it to their doctor or to their family.
What are the causes?
Pregnancy is one of the main factors in stress urinary incontinence. Indeed, weight gain and hormonal changes related to pregnancy often lead to difficulties in retaining urine during effort. Most of the time, this type of incontinence disappears naturally after the birth of the baby. However, sometimes this problem persists or even worsens after the birth. This is because the muscles of the perineum can become weakened and prevent the bladder opening from closing completely.
As with pregnancy, being overweight puts more pressure on the abdomen and bladder. Over time and under continued pressure, the pelvic floor muscles will relax and stress urinary incontinence will develop.
Age is another important factor in stress urinary incontinence. With the onset of menopause, women experience a significant decrease in their estrogen levels. The consequence of this hormonal change is a relaxation of the perineal muscles and therefore sometimes urinary stress incontinence.
Chronic constipation is a little known cause of urinary stress incontinence. However, this condition causes significant strain on the pelvic floor muscles and therefore considerably increases the risk of relaxation of these muscles.
In the same way, intensive sports practice is deleterious for your perineum muscles. As a result, these muscles are overstretched and can become weakened, leading to urinary leakage during effort.
Finally, as smoking is responsible for a chronic cough in a large proportion of smokers, it is also considered a risk factor for the development of urinary stress incontinence.
What are the solutions?
The most obvious solution to bladder weakness is of course the use of sanitary pads. However, this solution is only effective for low-intensity leaks. In addition, over time, you may experience irritation due to moisture.
The best solution for stress urinary incontinence is undoubtedly perineal rehabilitation. After talking to your doctor, he or she can prescribe sessions with a physiotherapist or a midwife. Manually or with the help of a probe, the practitioner will make you perform different exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. He or she can also give you advice and exercises to do at home.
However, if perineal rehabilitation alone is not enough, your doctor may suggest that you have a synthetic band placed over the urethra. This is a small procedure that is very effective in most cases.
Note that some causes of urinary stress incontinence are avoidable (smoking, excess weight, excessive sport). It is therefore important to pay attention to one’s lifestyle in order to limit the appearance of this disorder.