I’m on a WhatsApp group with some girlfriends called The Trampoliners. The group is so called because we have all had the same experience when playing with our children on trampolines: the sudden realisation that [whispers] a little bit of wee has come out.
“Leakage” can be the result of weakened pelvic floor muscles, often described as a group of muscles which form a ‘sling’ which lies from the pubic bone to the tail bone. Both men and women have them, and their purpose is to keep the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel, and vagina and uterus in women) in place and prevent any unfortunate escape of contents. I’m not a health professional, so for more information check out this NHS webpage.
As embarrassing as it is, I’m glad we all confessed to this because as it turns out we’re certainly not alone.
Up to a third of all women will experience some pelvic floor issues at some point in their life, usually due to pregnancy and childbirth, but it does affect all women, particularly from middle age onwards, and men too.
Don’t let it stop you.
After my trampolining incident, it occurred to me that there must be loads of people out there who are avoiding exercise because they are worried about a little bit of wee coming out.
High impact exercises (where you are jumping around, like running or aerobics) and lifting heavy weights can put pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. So if you’re worried that those star jumps will in fact make you cross your legs, there are plenty of low impact exercises you can do. Try walking, cycling, Pilates or yoga, together with a regular habit of doing specific pelvic floor strengthening exercises, until you are more confident to take on that dance class.
How do I avoid putting Tena Lady on the shopping list?
Regular specific pelvic floor exercises are vital. They are quick (couple of minutes) and easy to do and no-one can see you doing them. But the trick is so get into a regular habit. Physiotherapists recommend three times a day for at least three months in order to see an improvement. So try doing them while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, when you stop at traffic lights in the car, or when you’re on the bus to and from work. You could also try setting a reminder on your phone or using this app designed by NHS physiotherapists.
If you are worried about leakage, have a chat with your GP or seek out specialist help from a women’s physiotherapist.