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  • Writer's picturegrace.thefhp

Laugh until you cry, not leak pee.

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Let's talk stress urine incontinence.

1 in 3 women experience urine leakage – and there is an 84% success rate of solving this with Women’s Health Physiotherapy – that sounds like pretty good odds to me.

The Pelvic Floor - where is it? what does it do?

Simply put, these are the group of muscles that sit obliquely in the base of your pelvis providing a trampoline like support for your abdominal organs. When they are contracted they help to close off the urethra (where urine passes out of the body).

The pelvic floor muscles work as a team with your diaphragm muscle (which helps with breathing). This is why actions like laughing, sneezing and coughing are commonly reported to cause women to leak urine. This is known as Stress Urine Incontinence (SUI).

How does it work?

The abdomen is a closed chamber, I like to think of it like a fizzy pop can. The pelvic floor muscles make the base, the diaphragm makes the lid and the abdominal muscles make the cylinder like walls.

Naturally, as you breathe in the base and the lid move downwards to allow the lungs to fill, as you breathe out they rise back up working in synergy.

Now, imagine someone suddenly squeezes your full can of fizzy pop, the sudden change in pressure would cause the base and lid to force away from each other. If the pressure is high enough then something has to give, some of the drink will leak out of the opening to relieve the pressure.

This is essentially the mechanics of what happens when you suddenly cough or sneeze, the pressure is too high for your pelvic floor to resist and some urine escapes.

So how can we solve this?

Option 1.

We need reinforcement. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through regular, specific, prescribed exercises, we can teach them to tolerate increased force.

Option 2.

Prepare with "the Knack" – strongly contracting your pelvic floor muscles prior to coughing or sneezing you can prepare them and the abdominal muscles for the sudden increased pressure.

Option 3.

Work those angles – gravity has a lot to answer for and so, if practical, many women find lying down when they know they are about to cough or sneeze helps them contract their pelvic floor more effectively and prevent leakage.

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