Bones of the pelvis with pelvic floor highlighted in yellow

When our muscles are healthy and strong, they work silently, allowing us to function without thinking about it. Our pelvic floor muscles are no different; for a more in-depth look at pelvic floor function and anatomy, click here. Until recently, we believed it was normal to have leakage (also known as incontinence) after childbirth or as we age, or even that nothing could be done about it. However, these are all misconceptions, and are signs of pelvic floor dysfunction!

Risk Factors for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

  • Female
  • Obesity (increases intra-abdominal pressure)
  • Post menopausal (hormone changes)
  • Over 40 y.o
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Multiparous (more than 1 birth)
  • Birth trauma (forceps, suction, tearing)
  • Gynaecological or urinary surgery
  • Chronic illness (MS, PD, chronic coughing)
  • Medications
  • Smoking
  • Chronic straining (e.g. constipation)

Prevalence of Incontinence

Approximately 3.5 million Canadians have some form of urinary incontinence, with women more affected than men. One in 3 women versus 1 in 9 men are affected.

The incidence of incontinence increases as you age:

  • Young women = 20-30%
  • Middle aged women = 30-40%
  • Elderly women = 30-50%

Overall, 50% of women will experience urinary incontinence at some point in their life, and 33% will develop regular problems. However, for such a common issue, only 1 in 12 cases are known to healthcare providers. This is because for many people it can be embarrassing to talk about, we see our urinary and bowel habits as being a private matter, and as mentioned previously, we come to believe that it is a normal part of life/aging. But remember, incontinence is an indicator of pelvic floor dysfunction, and there is something you can do about it!

Impacts on Quality of Life

  • Decreased self-esteem and confidence
  • Impaired emotional status: depression, isolation
  • Decreased social activity, PA, ADLs
  • Increased risk of falls and nursing home admissions (from trying to get to the bathroom quickly)

Summary

If you’ve ever experienced urinary leakage, or you feel like your pelvic floor symptoms are affecting your quality of life, know that this isn’t something you have to live with. You can take control of this issue; it doesn’t have to control you. A pelvic floor physiotherapist is trained for assess the problem and provide you with the tips and tools you need to help manage your symptoms.

Interested in learning more?

Read on in our series of articles on Pelvic Health!

About the Author - Sonia Gashgarian

sonia gashgarian physiotherapist

Sonia Gashgarian is a registered physiotherapist who graduated with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto. Prior to this she completed her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with Honours from the University of Waterloo. Sonia has completed courses in sports taping and basic kinesio-taping, as well as the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy and Mulligan Concept. She also has her APTEI Acupuncture and Dry Needling Certification.

Sonia uses a variety of treatment techniques to help clients feel better and return to their regular activities as soon as possible. Her individualized treatments may include the following: education, joint mobilizations, exercise prescription, soft tissue release, trigger point release, taping, acupuncture and dry needling, cupping, and Gua Sha.

Too book in please call us at (519) 442-2206 or click here.

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