It’s a common story told by so many mums that when they laugh, cough, jump or run, they leak a bit of wee. Heck it’s so common, surely it must be normal right? Wrong! No leaking is never normal. As a Women’s Health Physio I treat women with this problem of incontinence all the time, especially after having a baby or as they reach the time of menopause. So why’s it happening?
Often the most common reason is that the pelvic floor isn’t quite doing what it should. After its been sat on for a whole pregnancy and then either been stretched during a vaginal labour or got it’s signalling all wonky after a C-section, that pelvic floor can be disinclined to do what it should. Commonly people think that it’s due to their pelvic floor being weak and start cracking on with their pelvic floor exercises (Kegels). Great, if that’s what the problem is and if the exercises are done correctly (often not the case). But more commonly than not, it can be due to the pelvic floor being overactive….imagine cramp up your lady bits! So what that means, is the muscles are gripping tightly and can’t relax fully or contract properly, making them dysfunctional.
So what is the pelvic floor meant to do and why does it matter if it’s weak or overactive?
All the pelvic floor muscle attach to your tail bone and then come forward and out to attach to both your pubic bone and your sitting bones. In effect, they create a hammock. That hammock moves forward and up when contracted to squash your urethra and stop the wee coming out. It also keeps tension around your back passage to stop poo and wind coming out. If it’s not working properly, those things become more of a challenge. So how would you know if you’re weak or overactive…or both? Well this is where a Women’s Health Physio comes in. We have a chat to you to find out what symptoms you’re having and then we do an internal exam. I realise I may have just lost some of you at that point – lets face it, a vaginal exam isn’t anyone’s idea of a good day out! I promise you it’s nothing like having a smear. There are no speculums, no leaving your legs flailing around or horrible shoving feelings! We are incredibly gentle, very respectful and only ever do it you are 100% on-board. Almost every patient we have would say it was no way near as bad as they thought it would be.
By doing that exam, we can tell if your pelvic floor muscles are weak, too tight or if your function has been affected by a vaginal tear or episiotomy. It’s also useful for women who have pelvic pain, or pain at the vaginal opening, among many other conditions. Once we have a clear idea of what’s going on, we can give you the right kind of exercises and stretches to get your pelvic floor back to full function, meaning no more leaking and hello trampoline!
We know that this is a sensitive subject and can be hard to talk about. Lisa and I have both been through this process ourselves and know what it entails and are fully empathetic to your concerns. We always endeavour to help our clients feel safe and at ease at all times as well as 100% respected. Call or email us today to find out more or to book your Mummy MOT®. To read more about Lisa Few and me, please click here.