We all know we should exercise. And we all are experts at finding excuses not to. Too cold, too hot, too tired, no time…you name it. One excuse that is rarely vocalized, is that many women lose urine every time they run, jump, or even walk with a bounce. The more vigorous the exercise, the greater the chance of incontinence, a true disincentive for working out if there ever was one! These are the women that when their 25 year old personal trainer tells them to jump rope, they decline based on “bad knees”. The real reason is that they will be jumping in a pool of their own urine.
Stress incontinence is the loss of urine with coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or anything that increases abdominal pressure. Urge incontinence, or overactive bladder, is a sudden, irresistible urge to void. In urge incontinence, the bladder muscles contract when they should not. The woman with urge incontinence is fine until she puts her key in the door. If she is lucky, the door will open, she won’t drop her packages, and she will make it to the toilet and get her pants down within the next four seconds. It is not unusual to have elements of both stress incontinence and urge incontinence, otherwise known as mixed incontinence.
Approximately 80% of the millions of women that suffer from incontinence do nothing about it assuming it is a “normal” part of aging. They also assume the only treatment options are to to have a surgical procedure or take a medication.
There are however other alternatives available to treat women who would like to eliminate diapers, pads, and dark pants as key wardrobe accessories.
Pelvic floor muscle training along with behavior modification and biofeedback, with an experienced pelvic floor physical therapy (apta.org) is highly effective, but most women do not have access to a personal pelvic floor physical therapist. One interesting new option is InTone ™ an FDA listed device that a woman gets from her doctor, but uses at home, to strengthen the pelvic floor and eliminate or greatly reduce incontinence. InTone is a silicone device that is placed in the vagina and inflated in order to assure comfortable but close contact with the vaginal walls. During 12-minute daily therapy sessions, a gentle electrical stimulation (the appropriate level is determined in the doctor’s office) occurs which enables the woman to learn to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles. A hand held control unit provides voice coaching and visual biofeedback. Over 2-3 months, as the pelvic floor muscles gain strength, the electrical stimulation is gradually increased. Once the incontinence is eliminated, a maintenance program of one session a week keeps the muscles toned.
InTone is like having a personal pelvic floor therapist, who lives in your home (no guest room required!) and does a quick therapy session when it is convenient for you.
I was in the camp that if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is to be good to be true, but when one of my patients donated her stash of diapers to a local nursing home, I was sold.
So if you are one of those women that is laughing with your legs crossed, avoiding the gym, and wearing wear black work out pants not as a fashion statement but to hide the wet crotch, know that common is not the same as normal, and just because something is common does not mean you have to live with it.