5 Common Risk Factors for Incontinence in Women
Nobody wants to admit to dribbling pee when they laugh or exercise, but a lot of women have this issue. A LOT. Urinary incontinence is what 1 in 3 women in the United States suffers from. We are talking millions of women in the United States – you are not alone! Urinary incontinence in women can be a result of many different factors or medical conditions – here are five of the most common risk factors for urinary incontinence in women:
1. Pregnancy and Childbirth
Urinary incontinence in women is pretty common when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. We all know moms who have laughed and peed a little, right?
Walking around with the little bundle of joy inside your tummy causes all manners of physical tension, and the bladder is no exception. The baby increases pressure on the pelvis, putting additional stress on the bladder muscles, with the birthing process itself further adding to the strain (at least with traditional vaginal deliveries) with each successive birth.
So make sure you’re doing the pelvic floor exercises (think Kegels) postpartum to help prevent urinary incontinence.
2. Coughing (yes, really!)
“Wait, how does coughing fit with urinary incontinence?” Many of your bladder and pelvic floor muscles are activated during a cough; next time you feel that familiar frog in your throat, take note of how certain muscles tense up with each cough. Now picture those muscles doing the same thing dozens of times daily for several years. All that motion severely weakens the bladder and pelvic muscles.
For those who have suffered even a temporary cold or bout of bronchitis, the constant coughing is unbearable. A chronic cough, as one might have from smoking or chronic bronchitis, is even worse. Now, experiencing any of these factors does not mean that you have urinary incontinence.
Even just a few ill-timed leaks here and there can affect your daily life. You may think that coughing and peeing a little is normal but it is not. Urinary incontinence can complicate even the simplest of plans (like sitting through a movie with your significant other or watching your kids’ soccer match). Urinary incontinence is frustrating, and far too many women put up with it.
So if these sound somewhat familiar and you notice yourself leaking without control, the Yarlap® may be for you! For about 20 minutes a day, the easy-to-use device exercises your pelvic floor muscles for you, strengthening them over time.
3. Aging and Menopause
Menopause and urinary incontinence have a lot in common. Age steadily weakens the bladder muscles. This can lead to less pelvic floor muscle strength and control.
Menopause causes a significant decrease in the hormone estrogen, one function of which is to maintain the lining of the bladder and urethra. Without estrogen, those areas are more likely to weaken and become irritated, which can aggravate incontinence.
Many of the ligaments and muscles which connect to the bladder support the uterus as well, so you can imagine how vulnerable the bladder is during a hysterectomy. Removing the uterus can damage those muscles and ligaments, making the bladder’s job more difficult.
5. Excess Weight/Obesity
Excessive weight gain puts immense pressure on the pelvis and strains the bladder muscles. Taking off a few pounds can help ease that pressure. I totally understand that this is easier said than done, but it only takes a weight loss of five to ten percent to make a difference.