November is National Bladder Health Awareness Month. Earlier in the month we shared Ashley’s story about bladder leakage and her return to #LifeWithoutLeaks. Today, we are sharing our top 10 tips for healthy bladder.
10 Tips for Healthy Bladder
- Don’t strain or push to empty your bladder. Forcing urine out will put strain and stress on your pelvic floor and bladder.
- Drink more water. Limiting fluids actually irritates the bladder rather than helps it. Drink plenty of fluids (primarily water) throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep your bladder happy.
- Avoid the JIC or “just in case” pee. Going to the bathroom “just in case” can train your brain and bladder to think you need to urinate more frequently than you actually have to.
- Sit down on the toilet. Sitting all the way down on the toilet allows your pelvic floor muscles to fully relax improving your ability to empty your bladder.
- Limit or avoid caffeine. Caffeine can irritate your bladder causing increased urinary frequency or urgency.
- Dab, dab, dab. Our tissue “down there” is very delicate. Wiping front to back might make you feel clean and dry, but it’s abrasive and can be irritating to the tissue. Instead dab front to back.
- Don’t ignore your urge. Your bladder and brain communicate when the bladder is full and it’s time to urinate every 2-4 hours. Listen to your bladder (and brain). When you feel that sense to urinate (and it’s been at least 2 hours), then go!
- Squeeze before you sneeze. Don’t get caught off guard! Squeezing the pelvic floor muscles before you cough, laugh, or sneeze can minimize or eliminate leaks and dribbles.
- Rock and tilt on the toilet. Rocking your pelvis front, back, and side to side can help empty the bladder to get any last dribbles out.
- Don’t rush. Sit down, relax, and let your body do it’s thing. Rushing the process can prevent you from completely emptying your bladder.
We hope this helps you improve your bladder health! Here at Legacy Physical Therapy, helping people achieve and maintain healthy bladders is our specialty. If you are experiencing urinary leakage, frequent urination, and/or urinary urgency, feel free to give our office a call at 636-225-3649 to find out how we can help you.
Bladder leakage with exercise is NOT normal.
I had the opportunity to help a patient awhile back. Let’s call her Ashley. When I met Ashley, she told me her story, an all too common tale for many women. Here’s her story…
Ashley is a 31 year old mother of two kiddos under the age of 3. Her youngest was born 6 months prior to the time she came in to see me.
In the past, she exercised a few days per week varying her activity from walks around her neighborhood, to boot camp and strengthening classes at the gym, to the occasional run.
At 6 weeks postpartum, when she was cleared to return to exercise from her OB/GYN, she returned to regular walks pushing a double stroller. Her body felt pretty good overall.
At around 8 weeks postpartum, she returned to the gym for her first boot camp class. She realized quickly how little strength she had in her body, especially her abdomen. What startled her most was that she could not seem to do any jumping exercises without a trickle of urine coming out.
Ashley fully admitted she figured the leakage was a fluke- maybe she hadn’t emptied her bladder fully, or she drank too much water before class… but it wasn’t a fluke.
Ashley explained to me that her urinary leakage continued to happen every time she would jump during boot camp— jump squats, jumping jacks, even with mountain climbers. Then she noticed leaking urine when she would cough or sneeze. Her problem seemed to be getting worse, not better.
She was frustrated.
She couldn’t exercise like she wanted to, nor could she let out a cough or sneeze without fear she would pee herself. She eventually stopped going to boot camp classes and started wearing a pantyliner “just in case.”
Then one day, scrolling through social media, she read a post on how physical therapy could help with bladder issues. She figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. That’s when she called me at 6 months postpartum.
She told me her goal was to be free of leakage again— to not leak urine when she jumped, coughed, or sneezed. She wanted to return to bootcamp classes 2 times per week and potentially run a 5k in the future. She did not want to wear a pad every day. She did not want to feel limited by her bladder problems.
Ashley met with me for weekly appointments to start, then phased down to appointments every few weeks as she saw improvement in her urinary leakage. We worked together on focused strategies and exercises to target her specific problem areas.
By the end of our time together, she wasn’t leaking any longer with a cough or sneeze. Ashley had returned to boot camp classes without fear of bladder problems.
Ashley told me at her final visit, “I am so grateful that I found pelvic physical therapy. No woman should have to live in fear of her bladder. And I’m thankful I no longer have to.”
If you have a story similar to Ashley, we want you to know that you are not alone. 1 in 3 women will experience bladder leakage some time in their lifetime. You DO NOT need to live with it. Pelvic Physical Therapy can help. If you are experiencing bladder leakage with exercise, contact us at 636-225-3649 to set up a free discovery session to see if Pelvic Physical Therapy is right for you.
Sex feels usually feels great, but what if it doesn’t? Painful sex is more common than you think—nearly 3 out of 4 women have pain during intercourse at some time during their lives. For some women, the pain is only a temporary problem; for others, it is a long-term problem. Pain during intercourse is known as Dyspareunia. It can make women avoid, reduce the frequency, or outright stop having sex. Women of all ages can experience dyspareunia.
Have you ever struggled with painful sex? You are not alone. Many women suffer in silence when sex starts to get painful. Others may be brave enough to bring it up with doctors, only to be given unhelpful advice such as “drink some wine,” “just relax,” “you had a baby recently this is normal,” or “just use more lubrication.” Each of these statements are real quotes from patients of ours here at Legacy Physical Therapy. We want to spread the word that there is hope and help!
Earlier this fall owner, Brooke Kalisiak had the pleasure of joining Angela Skurtu M.Ed, LMFT (AASECT) Certified Sex Therapist on her podcast About Sex. During this episode we discussed some of the common causes of painful sex, potential treatment options, and how pelvic physical therapy can help.
To listen to the episode you can go to:
Or you can watch the LiveStream Video below. Brooke Kalisiak brought along her pelvic anatomy model to the taping. Watching the video you will get to have a visual of some of the anatomy she is discussing.
If you or someone you know is dealing with painful sex, please know, first and foremost that you are not alone, and second that there is help. If you would like to learn more about potential treatment options for painful intercourse, you can reach us at 636-225-3649 to talk with one of our experienced pelvic physical therapists.
In our last blog post we discussed the 10 sign that you may have pelvic floor dysfunction.
If you missed that post, CLICK HERE to read it.
Did you answer YES to any of the 10 signs in our last post? Are you wondering what you can do about it? Read on…
5 things you can do today to help pelvic floor dysfunction
- Learn to kegel. A “kegel” is a contraction or squeezing of the pelvic floor muscles. Try to contract your pelvic floor muscles as if you are trying to stop the flow of urine or hold back gas. If you can feel a squeezing sensation or successfully stop a flow of urine, then you are likely able to kegel. If you cannot kegel or aren’t sure if you are doing a kegel correctly, a pelvic physical therapist can help assess your kegel and then teach you how to properly contract your pelvic floor muscles. It is worth saying that it’s not all about squeezing your pelvic floor muscles or kegeling! The pelvic floor muscles need to be able to relax too.
- Avoid bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, citrus fruits and fruit juices, spicy foods, tomatoes and tomato based products, and/or artificial sweeteners. Once you have eliminated the potential irritants for a couple weeks, you can try to add them back in one by one to tease out which substance seems to have the most effect on your symptoms.
- Avoid constipation and straining. Keeping your stools soft through a diet rich in fiber and plenty of fluids (ideally water) will reduce the strain and stress placed on the pelvic floor. Tools such as the “squatty potty” can position you properly to further reduce the strain on the pelvic floor making bowel movements easier. Pelvic physical therapy can also be helpful in teaching you how to properly relax your pelvic floor muscles to reduce constipation or straining with bowel movement.
- Breathe! A few repetitions of deep belly or diaphragmatic breathing throughout the day can help pelvic floor dysfunction. When you breathe diaphragmatically, as you inhale your diaphragm moves down and your belly expands, and as you exhale your belly retracts and your diaphragm goes back up. Deep breathing helps calm the nervous system and reduce urgency and pain symptoms. Not sure how to belly breathe? Pelvic physical therapists can teach you the proper technique.
- If you think you have a pelvic floor dysfunction, the best thing you can do is to have an evaluation done by a trained pelvic floor physical therapist. In your evaluation, you and the pelvic physical therapist will discuss what your symptoms and goals are; the therapist will perform an evaluation to determine the source of your problem; and you will decide together what the best treatment plan for you will be.
It is our mission at Legacy Physical Therapy to help people overcome pelvic floor dysfunction. We would be honored to partner with you in your care. If you are wondering if you are dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction and you would like to talk with one of our talented pelvic physical therapists, you can email or call us at 636-225-3649 to set up a free discovery session.