How to protect yourself against incontinence
5/5/2015 12:18 PM
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that spread across the bottom of the pelvic cavity like a hammock. Pelvic floor functions include supporting the pelvic organs; providing sphincter control for the bladder and bowel; withstanding pressure in the abdomen such as coughing, sneezing, laughing and lifting; and enhancing sexual response.
“When a woman ages, the pelvic floor muscles may sag and weaken as a result of stress placed on them,” Occupational Therapist Tiffany Lee explains. “This might be the result of pregnancy-related changes in the body, damage to the pelvic floor during childbirth, repeated straining such as during bowel movements or repetitive heavy lifting.”
As a woman goes through menopause, estrogen levels fall. This also leads to a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, which can result in pelvic organ prolapse. A common consequence of a weak pelvic floor is the involuntary leakage of urine or stool.
Women should strive to maintain strength, tone, and elasticity of the pelvic floor muscles to help with bladder and bowel control and improve sexual response for both themselves and their partner.
Kegel exercises are an important tool for women to achieve these goals. Women should learn to recognize the pelvic floor muscles and then employ kegels on a regular basis.
For patients with chronic incontinence, pelvic floor biofeedback therapy will help women strengthen and
relax their pelvic floor muscles through special computer equipment. Patients can then learn to use their muscles to decrease the sudden urge to urinate, decrease leaks and lessen certain types of pelvic pain.
Lee adds, “I love celebrating with my patients when they throw away their pads, lose their fear of leaking and can be intimate with their partners without pain.”
To have a Kegel exercise pamphlet mailed to you or to learn about biofeedback therapy, contact Tiffany at CTMC’s Rehabilitation Center by calling 512.557.6310.