Do you have to squeeze before you sneeze? You are not alone. During pregnancy and after delivery, bladder control problems are common. In fact, one out of every three women struggle with these problems. The good news is, there are many options.
Bladder Issues Begin
During pregnancy, the baby presses down on the pelvic floor muscles, the bladder and urethra (the tube you urinate through) and can weaken your bladder control. After childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles need time to recover. For many women, their pelvic floor support and bladder control will return by six weeks; however, for others it doesn’t return to normal.
There are two common bladder control problems. Stress urinary incontinence is leakage when you cough, sneeze, exercise or jump on a trampoline. The urinary frequency, urgency, urge incontinence or overactive bladder involves voiding frequently, getting up at night and/or leakage on the way to the bathroom.
There are ways to retrain the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. Education and knowing there are options for treatment is important.
For bladder control issues after pregnancy, there are conservative therapies. Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen the muscles and help you regain control. You can learn to do pelvic floor therapy on your own, from your health care provider or with the assistance of a specially trained physical therapist. If time and conservative efforts are not helping, there are minimally invasive treatment options.
These options include medications, Botox and InterStim therapy (a pacemaker-like unit for bladder and bowel control). For stress incontinence, there are office procedures and minimally invasive surgeries.
Remember, you are not alone. You can read about pelvic floor therapy and treatment options in my book, — Ray A. Bologna, M.D., MBA chairman and program director, Department of Urology Akron General Medical Center, 320 W. Exchange St., Akron, 330-535-5177