Written by Roshni Ravi, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist
Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence that occurs with physical activity or exertion. This can be from coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercise e.g. jumping. All of these actions can put pressure on the bladder thereby causing leaks. The pelvic floor is important in preventing this leaks and supporting the bladder.
Pelvic floor exercises such as a kegel are commonly recommended for leaks. However, a lot of time the pelvic floor is actually tight rather than weak. Reverse Kegels involve relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, allowing them to lengthen and release tension. This helps to prevent over-tightening and over-activity of the pelvic floor muscles, which can contribute to stress incontinence.
Hypertonic pelvic floor
Hypertonic pelvic floor refers to a condition where the pelvic floor muscles are in a state of excessive and persistent contraction. This can lead to a number of symptoms, including pelvic pain, urinary and fecal incontinence, and sexual dysfunction.
Hypertonic pelvic floor can be caused by a number of factors, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, chronic constipation, and chronic pelvic pain. It can also be a result of excessive or improper use of pelvic floor muscle exercises, such as Kegels.
Treatment for Hypertonic pelvic floor
Treatment for hypertonic pelvic floor typically involves a combination of physical therapy and relaxation techniques. Physical therapy may include manual therapy to release muscle tension, as well as exercises to stretch and relax the pelvic floor muscles. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and biofeedback, can also be helpful in reducing muscle tension.
If you’re experiencing leaks, reach out to a pelvic floor therapist for an assessment or discovery call!
FAQ’s about Stress Incontinence
Q: What is stress incontinence?
A: Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence that occurs when pressure is placed on the bladder, such as during coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising, and causes involuntary urine leakage.
Q: What causes stress incontinence?
A: Stress incontinence is typically caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles and/or a weakened urethral sphincter, which can occur due to aging, pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, obesity, chronic coughing, or certain medical conditions.
Q: Who is at risk for developing stress incontinence?
A: Women are more likely to develop stress incontinence than men, especially those who have gone through pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, or pelvic surgery. Other risk factors include obesity, chronic coughing, and certain medical conditions that affect the bladder or nervous system.
Q: How is stress incontinence diagnosed?
A: Stress incontinence can be diagnosed through a physical exam, a urine test, and other tests such as a bladder diary or urodynamic testing.
Q: What are the treatment options for stress incontinence?
A: Treatment options for stress incontinence may include:
- pelvic floor exercises,
- behavioral therapies,
- medical devices such as pessaries, and in some cases,
Q: Can stress incontinence be prevented?
A: While stress incontinence may not be completely preventable, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, doing regular pelvic floor exercises, and avoiding smoking and excessive caffeine consumption are some of these.
Q: Is stress incontinence a normal part of aging?
A: While stress incontinence is more common in older adults, it is not a normal part of aging and should not be ignored or accepted as an inevitable consequence of getting older. Treatment options are available, and seeking help from a healthcare provider is important.