Urinary Leakage with Sneezing, Laughing and Coughing: Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
All too often we hear friends, family and clients repeating these lines to us, that somehow over the past few months, years or decades, they have noticed some “leaking” with everyday activities and bodily responses. This problem may have randomly emerged or slowly developed but either way they can cause havoc on your life. We understand that a lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about this subject matter and choose to conceal it, however, no one should feel this way because it is a fairly common problem yet it does not have to be your norm.
Leaking when sneezing, laughing, coughing or changing body positions can describe a form of incontinence called stress incontinence. It occurs when there is increased pressure in the abdomen and pelvic region causing increased pressure on your bladder that subsequently results in a loss of urine. If you think about the last time you sneezed, you probably felt some pressure on your stomach as you let your sneeze out. Or when you had a really hard laugh and called it a “belly laugh.” Or when you went to pick up a heavy object and tensed your whole body to do so. These scenarios describe a potential time when you had some leakage because your pelvic floor muscles were unable to overcome the pressure in your abdomen as a result of these events.
What are pelvic floor muscles? They are a group of muscles that line the bottom of your pelvic region. They have a bunch of responsibilities including assisting with posture, stability, sexual functions, and bladder and bowel control. When you sneeze, laugh or cough, these muscles need to be able to provide you the support needed to prevent any loss of urine. They should be able to contract just like any other muscle in your body to perform their job appropriately. For example, when you go to lift up your groceries, your bicep muscle contracts to support the additional weight or resistance from your grocery bag. In the same manner, your pelvic floor muscles should be contracting as you sneeze, laugh or cough to keep your pelvic organs supported and prevent any leaking.
This reaction of the pelvic floor muscles may not be happening for multiple reasons. It may mean these muscles are weak and need some help with strengthening to improve their function. Or it may mean these muscles are too tight and may need some help with elongation so they can contract better. Or it may mean these muscles need some help with coordination as they are not contracting at the right time – maybe too late or too early. Either way these are all things that can be addressed by a pelvic floor physical therapist.
How would I know which of these reasons is causing the incontinence I am experiencing? Inner Dynamics Physical Therapy is a pelvic health and wellness center that has five physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor physical therapy. The therapists have all undergone training post their Doctoral degrees to specifically treat muscles in the pelvic region. Through a thorough history and examination, they will be able to determine the cause of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to address your concerns.
In general, physical therapists work on the musculoskeletal system to address movement and overall daily functions. The pelvic floor muscles are no different, except that they have functions that go beyond just helping with movement. At Inner Dynamics Physical Therapy, we will address what’s potentially causing you to leak when you sneeze, laugh or cough, and guide you through appropriate exercises and interventions to improve your overall wellbeing. Therapy involves therapeutic regimens that are non-surgical or invasive. Treatment typically consists of learning appropriate exercises and receiving education about bladder control.
Physical therapists have direct access in the State of New Jersey, meaning you do not need a prescription to attend therapy. However, if your insurance company requires a script you will be informed.
No matter how long you have been experiencing any urinary problems, please call our office to address your concerns. We will assist you in setting up an initial evaluation to be treated by one of our specialized pelvic floor physical therapists. Don’t hesitate on addressing this problem because simple changes could improve your whole quality of life.