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GUEST - No Matter What You've Heard - Light Bladder Leaks are NOT a Normal Part of Being a Woman!

Updated: May 8, 2019

By: Kaitlyn Boyd

MSc PT, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

Function First

It was finally the moment I had been waiting for. The time of day when peace descends upon my house. The wrestling stops and quiet ensues. It was 7:30 and it was bedtime. Yes, my two little spirited boys were tucked in for the night and it was time for me to mindlessly watch some HGTV. I was still finding my comfy spot when the commercial popped on.

Picture this - a group of happy, smiling women out together on a run. This is followed by another smiling woman jumping rope while children watch on, cheering. Then the audio: “light bladder leaks are just part of being a woman, but we can still jump into fun”. This was followed by accolades for the incontinence liners being marketed - 5x more absorbent...

I launched myself upright, frightening my husband and my dog. Whhhhaaaaaat?? A normal part of being a woman??

I think not. Let me elaborate.

Incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine. Certainly, this is a very common issue - actually as many as 1 in 4 women. But it is a misconception to think that this is normal. Two common, but different types of incontinence are stress and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is leakage that occurs when there has been an increase in intra-abdominal pressure (think laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercise).

Urge incontinence is a sudden loss of bladder control that usually comes after a person experiences a very strong and overwhelming urge to empty their bladder.

This is NOT something women have to deal with because they have had babies or because they are aging or because a commercial told them they do....

Something can be done. And guess can be pretty easy!

But before we can get into that we have to understand a little bit about the muscles that contribute to our bladder function. These are the muscles of our pelvic floor. Think of these muscles like a hammock or a sling - they are supporting your bladder, uterus and rectum. Like any other muscle in our body, these muscles can become weak or tight and not work as they should. If this happens, problems like incontinence can occur.

  The good news is, like other muscles in our body, we can work on strengthening them or stretching/relaxing them. A great place to start is with an assessment by a pelvic health physiotherapist. We are a group of physiotherapists with additional training in assessing and treating the muscles of the pelvic floor.

Since these muscles are inside our bodies, we have also been trained to perform an internal vaginal and/or rectal exam in order to really assess how the pelvic floor is functioning. When it comes to incontinence, the research tells us that a lot of improvements can be made or symptoms can be eliminated by working with a pelvic health physiotherapist.

If you still aren’t convinced this could be right for you, consider your fitness and physical pursuits. Do you have leakage on your 5k run? Or during your yoga class? Or during your evening walk? Or during any physical activity that you are passionate about and brings you joy? Again, while it is not uncommon to have bladder leaks, it is NOT normal.

This indicates that your pelvic floor and likely core muscles are not working optimally and cannot handle the increased stress caused by physical activity. Pushing through or ignoring it will not help it get better. If you put in the appropriate work, there is a great chance you will be able to do your favourite activities symptom free! But in the meantime, you need to take this as your body’s check engine light and do something to fix it.

So should women be able to jump into fun? Absolutely. Pee our pants while running and playing with our kids? Hells to the no. Sorry Poise.

By: Kaitlyn Boyd

MSc PT, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

Function First


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