5 Common Risk Factors for Incontinence in Women
Nobody wants to admit to dribbling pee when they laugh or exercise, but a lot of women have this issue. A LOT. We are talking millions of women in the United States (you are not alone!). Urinary incontinence can be a result of many different factors or medical conditions – here are five of the most common risk factors for urinary incontinence in women:
1. Pregnancy and Childbirth
Walking around with the little bundle of joy inside your tummy causes all manners of physical tension, and the bladder is no exception. The baby increases pressure on the pelvis, putting additional stress on the bladder muscles, with the birthing process itself further adding to the strain (at least with traditional vaginal deliveries) with each successive birth. So please make sure you’re doing the pelvic floor exercises (think Kegels) post-birth to help prevent urinary incontinence.
2. Excess Weight/Obesity
Excessive weight gain puts immense pressure on the pelvis and strains the bladder muscles. Taking off a few pounds can help ease that pressure. I totally understand that this is easier said than done, but it only takes a weight loss of five to ten percent to make a difference.
3. Aging and Menopause
Age steadily weakens the bladder muscles (as if getting old isn't hard enough). This can lead to less pelvic floor muscle strength and control. Menopause causes a significant decrease in the hormone estrogen, one function of which is to maintain the lining of the bladder and urethra. Without estrogen, those areas are more likely to weaken and become irritated, which can aggravate incontinence.
Many of the ligaments and muscles which connect to the bladder support the uterus as well, so you can imagine how vulnerable the bladder is during a hysterectomy. Removing the uterus can damage those muscles and ligaments, making the bladder's job more difficult.
5. Coughing (yes, really!)
For those who have suffered even a temporary cold or bout of bronchitis, the constant coughing is unbearable. A chronic cough, as one might have from smoking or chronic bronchitis, is even worse. Many of your bladder and pelvic floor muscles are activated during a cough; next time you feel that familiar frog in your throat, take note of how certain muscles tense up with each cough. Now picture those muscles doing the same thing dozens of times daily for several years. All that motion severely weakens the bladder and pelvic muscles.
Now, experiencing any of these factors does not mean that you have urinary incontinence. But even just a few ill-timed leaks here and there can affect your daily life. It is something you may think is normal (it isn’t!!), but it can complicate even the simplest of plans (like sitting through a movie with your spouse or watching your kids' soccer match). Urinary incontinence is frustrating, and far too many women put up with it.
So if these sound somewhat familiar and you notice yourself leaking without control (even a little), the Yarlap® may be for you! For about 20 minutes a day, the easy-to-use device exercises your pelvic floor muscles for you, strengthening them over time. For more information, check out our other posts and the rest of the website.