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When urine leaks out of your body when you don’t want it to it is considered incontinence and it is very common.  Over 3.5 million Canadians experience incontinence and many believe it is normal or that they need surgery to fix it.

What is Incontinence?

Stress urinary incontinence is when urine leaks out due to some sort of exertion like a laugh, cough or lifting something heavy. Urge urinary incontinence is associated with a sudden and overwhelming need to get to the bathroom and can result in small leaks or a complete release of the bladder. Anal incontinence occurs when gas or stool leaks out.  These conditions are all quality of life-threatening and they are all treatable.

Why Does Incontinence Happen?

Urine exits the body through the urethra and stool exits through the rectum. Pelvic floor muscles and sphincters support the urethra and the rectum.  Internal sphincters are involuntary meaning we don’t have control over them. External sphincters are voluntary which means we do have control over them. Damage to the sphincters, poor pelvic floor muscle control, or nerve damage hinder our capacity to manage our bladder and bowel elimination. We need good sphincter control and  good pelvic floor muscle control to remain continent.

Is Surgery Needed To Fix Incontinence?

Surgical intervention is often recommended to people dealing with bothersome symptoms. However, it is not the only option and is best pursued only after all other options have failed.  Many people believe or are told that surgery is needed and are not told about the conservative options. Furthermore, they are not counselled on lifestyle changes. Recurrence can be high in these situations because root causes and basics like pelvic floor muscle strengthening have not been considered. If surgery is needed or chosen, it is essential to strengthen the pelvic floor prior to surgery and maintain a pelvic floor fitness program for life.

How Do I Strengthen My Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that help maintain continence and influence the external sphincters. The muscles need to react at the right time with the right amount of force for the activity at hand. When the timing is off or when the balance between strength and flexibility is hindered, incontinence can result.  Increasing strength in the muscles is one requirement as is retraining the reaction time of the muscles. Kegels are often recommended as an exercise but we know from research that most people are not doing them or doing them incorrectly.  Being told to do kegels is not enough. We benefit from an evaluation with a pelvic floor physiotherapist and a pelvic floor strengthening program with a balance of kegel contractions and pelvic muscle release exercises. Once you have connected with the pelvic floor and are consistently doing kegels correctly, the next step is to layer them into whole-body movement which helps retrain the reaction time of the muscles. A whole-body approach can help people reduce or even eliminate incontinence symptoms in as little as two weeks.

Incontinence affects far too many of us and most do not know that there are options beyond pads, drugs and surgery.  In as little as 10 minutes a day with the right program, this bothersome problem can be eliminated so you can get back to living life to the fullest!

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  • Kim Vopni, a self-professed kegel maven, is known as The Vagina Coach. She is a certified fitness professional who became passionate about spreading information on pelvic health after the birth of her first child. She is an author, a speaker, and a women’s health educator. Her most recent book Your Pelvic Floor launched in March 2020 and was on the bestseller list since pre-orders launched in January. Kim is the founder of Pelvienne Wellness Inc, which offers pelvic health programs, products and coaching for women in pregnancy, motherhood and menopause. Kim also certifies other fitness and movement professionals to work with women with core and pelvic floor challenges through her Core Confidence Specialist Certification and Pre/Postnatal Fitness Specialist Certification.

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