Why Do I Feel Like I Need To Pee During Sex? 3 Ways To Overcome It.

Why you feel like you need to pee during sex and how to fix it.

If you’ve ever had the feeling that you’re going to wet yourself during the act, you’re not alone. Many women report feeling this sensation – even those that don’t normally experience incontinence. The main reason this typically occurs is the pressure that is put onto the bladder by the penis.

Here are 3 ways to help you eliminate the feeling of needing to pee during sex

1. Empty your bladder before you have sex.

One of the simplest solutions to ensure you aren’t going to have a leak is to use the bathroom prior to doing the deed. This will ensure that even if you feel pressure, your bladder will be empty, greatly reducing the chance of an accident. (This will probably reduce your fears about it too, so you can actually enjoy yourself!)

2. Try a change in position. 

Sometimes, a simple position change can do the trick to eliminate the sensation. Experiment with your partner to see what sexual position feels best for you.

3. Experiment on your own to see what works best for you. 

Some women feel the sensation to pee before having an orgasm. To know if your fears are really a precursor to pleasure, spend some alone time exploring your body with your fingers or a small vibrator. When you feel the sensation to pee, keep going. If it passes, you know that it is just the way your body reacts to the sensation and you’ll be able to better tell in the future between actually having to pee and being on the verge of experiencing an orgasm.

Incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your general workout routine - 3 best moves to add now.

3 Pelvic Floor Exercises to add To your workout routine now.

A guest blog written by Michelle Herbst, PT

Pelvic Floor Exercises, or Kegels, is the contraction of the muscles between the pubic bone and tailbone. When a pelvic floor exercise is performed, the person should feel a gentle tightening and lifting sensation in the lower abdomen and perineum. The pelvic floor muscle contraction is complete when the muscles relax and let go of the contraction.

Please keep in mind these tips when performing a pelvic floor exercise to protect yourself from undue harm. One, you must be able to maintain your breath and therefore be able to inhale and exhale while performing a Kegel and avoid breath holding or bearing down. Two, your muscular effort should be around 75 to 80 percent. If you are exerting 100 percent effort, you are likely using the pelvic floor muscles and many other muscle groups as well.

There are many variations and progressions of a Kegel exercise.

Here are 3 ways to incorporate pelvic floor exercises into your daily routines.

Exercise One: Kegel Progression

The pelvic floor muscles are made of two muscle fiber types – fast and slow. Therefore, Kegels can be progressed by varying the hold time and intensity of the muscle contraction. One of my favorite progressions is simply lengthening the hold time followed by a few quick pelvic floor contractions. For example, a Kegel can be held for 5 seconds followed by 5 quick contractions. This Kegel Combo can be done in any position – seated, standing or lying down. It can be done to the beat of music while seated at a stop light or at the end of a cardio or lifting session when you are your mat working the abdominal exercises.

Exercise Two: Kegel with Breath Work

Yoga is the all the rage and you my find your zen when performing a Kegal with breath work. While your yoga instructor is cueing you in inhale and exhale think about what your pelvic floor. Typically, during focused breathing such as in a Yoga Class, there is always slight tension on the pelvic floor. However, you further engage the pelvic floor muscles when you forcibly exhale. During this type of exhalation, the pelvic floor muscles tighten further along with our deep abdominal muscles to push the air up and out of our lungs. Try it. It may transform your yoga practice.

Exercise Three: Kegel with Plank

Plank. It is a much loved and hated exercise. It is a great way to fully engage our core. And, to reap the benefits of the plank - you must focus on the pelvic floor. If your wrists and feet can tolerate a full plank – go for it! If you need to modify, do a half-plank on your knees. Or, try a wall plank by standing with your feet an arms-length away from the wall and placing your hands on the wall.

Here are a few head to toe cues to get you planking.

When in plank, the hands are stacked under the elbows and shoulders. The chin is slightly tucked lengthening the back of the neck. Your shoulder blades are pulled down and back towards the spine. The chest opens and the pelvis is slightly lifted. Your legs are hip width apart. In full plank, your ankles are 90 degrees as you weight bear through the toes. Now, draw your focus to your pelvic floor muscles.  When you tighten the Kegel muscles, you may feel like your tailbone lift up and in. Hold your plank and breathe. Smile too – you just may enjoy how strong you feel.

 
Michelle Herbst, PT

Michelle Herbst, PT

 

Bladder Health and Sex

Bladder Health and Sex

Understanding what is normal during sex and what is unusual can be challenging. After all, sex is a very private experience and differs for every person. Generally speaking, there is no reason for your bladder to empty during sex or for you to feel extreme discomfort or experience pain during sex.

As you can guess, the health of your bladder can directly affect your sex life. 

Two common reasons individuals experience pain or discomfort with their bladder during or after sex are: bladder pain syndrome and stress urinary incontinence.

Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS)

Bladder pain syndrome is the continual sensation of pressure or pain on the bladder. This syndrome typically affects women and leaves individuals feeling as if they have to urinate when they don’t have any urine to pass.

Consider making dietary changes and practicing bladder retraining so your bladder begins to hold more urine before experiencing the urge to go.

Relax before engaging in sex to ensure as little stress as possible. Stress can cause flare-ups and trigger discomfort.

Stress Urinary Incontinence

Stress Urinary Incontinence or SUI occurs because of weak pelvic floor muscles and/or a deficient urethral sphincter. This weakness can cause the bladder to leak during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or any body movement that puts pressure on the bladder. If sex is particular jarring, SUI can be affected.

Consider exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and limit caffeine intake. Always empty your bladder before sex.

We hope this peek into how your bladder health can impact sex was helpful. If you have experienced any of the symptoms noted above and haven’t talked to your doctor, it’s time to schedule an appointment. Additionally, we feel it’s important to share your health with your partner if you continue to have sex while experiencing some of these bladder health concerns.

Join us on our forum to talk more and learn how others have dealt with issues like these.  

Tips to keep incontinence from interfering with your sex life

Tips To Keep Incontinence From Interfering With Your Sex Life

If you struggle with incontinence and have concerns about leaking during sex, you're not alone. The American Foundation for Urologic Disease (AFUD) reports that one in three women with stress incontinence avoids sex due to fears of leaking during intercourse or orgasm. But incontinence during sex doesn't have to be an issue.  

Below are some tips to manage your incontinence and reclaim your sex life.

Be Prepared. 

Believe it or not, your behavior prior to sex can have a big impact on your chances of leaking during the act.  Here are a few tips to help you avoid an uncomfortable situation:

Avoid bladder irritating foods or drinks a couple of hours before bedtime.  

Not sure what your food and drink triggers are? There are some common ones, but you can also track your own habits for a week or so to determine what foods and drink you.

Limiting your fluids prior to having sex.

After all, the less you have in the bladder the less likely you may be to have a leak during sex.

Practice "double voiding" prior to sex.

This is when you go to the bathroom, wait a few minutes, and then go again to empty any residual urine that may still be present in the bladder.

Use protective bedding.

In case you do have an accident, at least your mattress will be protected.

Try a new position. 

You may find that a new position creates less stress on your bladder muscles, making leakage less likely. 

Strengthen up "down there".

Regular pelvic floor workouts can do wonders for women who experience incontinence. An added bonus?  Studies have shown that by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles you may also experience stronger orgasms and find sex more satisfying.

Talk about it with your partner. 

While this is an uncomfortable discussion to have, the mere act of telling your partner about your condition may relieve some of the stress associated with it. 

Talk to your Doctor.

If you've tried the steps above to no avail, consider talking to your doctor about your condition. Incontinence is not a normal part of aging and many things can be done to correct the situation. Your doctor can tell you about options that will best fit your needs.  Need help finding a physician?  Click here.

How Smoking Contributes To Incontinence

How Smoking Contributes To Incontinence

We all know that cigarette smoking  is bad for us. But did you know that it can also lead to incontinence?  

Studies have shown that smokers are at an increased risk for incontinence.  Over time, many smokers develop a chronic cough, which can put an enormous amount of pressure on the pelvic muscles, causing them to weaken and increasing the chance of stress incontinence. Additionally, smokers also experience more frequent urges to use the restroom, as smoking is an irritant to the bladder. Even more alarming, it’s been shown that smoking can also lead to bladder cancer.

What’s a smoker to do?

The obvious fix is to quit smoking – not only to alleviate or prevent incontinence, but for a host of other health reasons as well. 

While quitting is not easy, there are a few things you can do to help you succeed:

  1. Talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help give you tips to quit, and may suggest medication or programs that can help. 
  2. Get the support of your family and friends. Tell your loved ones what you are trying to do so that they can support you and give you the encouragement you need when you are feeling tempted to smoke.
  3. Avoid your triggers. Many people feel the urge to smoke during certain activities – grabbing drinks with friends, at certain times of the day, etc. Try to avoid these activities for a while or find ways to stay busy during your usual smoking times.
  4. Take up a hobby. With all the time you’ll save by not smoking, you may be able to finally start that project or hobby you’ve been thinking about. Doing something with your hands (knitting, woodworking, etc.)may also help keep you busy and help you avoid the urge to pick up a cigarette.

Smoking is a hard habit to quit for many people. But with determination and perseverance, it can be done. And it’s never too late to see the benefits of quitting – a recent study showed that even smokers who quit in their 60’s saw an increase in their lifespan.

Have any tips for quitting? Please share them with our readers in the comments below!

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me About Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

A Guest Blog By Sally Connor

I am a 38-year old woman, and I am angry. Angry that my body has changed so much since I’ve had children, angry that I developed a prolapsed bladder after the birth of my first son, angry that I can no longer run the way I used to without making several trips to the bathroom, or worse, wetting myself. I am angry with my doctors for not telling me that this may be a side effect of pregnancy and that there were steps I could have taken to prevent it. I’m angry with other women for not telling me that it has happened to them. I am angry for my sheer ignorance of the situation until it happened to me. But more than anything, I am angry that no one knows any of this because in our society, it feels too embarrassing to really talk about.

When we are young, we don’t think about these things. Before I had children, I don’t think that I ever even gave the pelvic floor much thought. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know what it was.  Here is what I didn’t know:  That the pelvic floor muscles act as a basket, supporting your bladder, uterus, and rectum. It is also connected to and supported by your deepest core muscles – your transverse abdominus (below the ‘six pack’ abs) and your multifidus (the tiny muscles that support the spine), and is affected by almost every movement you make.  The pelvic floor, what I now refer to as the epicenter of my body, is called upon every time you sit, stand, squat, walk, and even breathe. 

So I ask, why is it that we don’t hear more about this vital web of muscles? Why are we kept in the dark until it is too late? Because, really, much of this can usually be prevented. The pelvic floor, just like any other muscle in the body, can be strengthened and trained. With regular exercise, the pelvic floor and the supporting muscles around it can provide a strong foundation for continence for your entire life. But, like any other muscle, if it is already in a weakened state, and then becomes traumatized by something like childbirth, well, the damage is done. 

That is the case with prolapse. You can try to repair it, and may see marked improvement through physical therapy, or even surgery, but once the damage is done, it is done. 

It doesn’t mean that there is no hope though. I know this. I have seen great improvement in my symptoms and am grateful to have had access to a very skilled physical therapist who was able to show me how to strengthen things up ‘down there’. But, I still do experience some symptoms and I can’t help wonder if things would be the same had I been more aware of this muscle and what I should have been doing to keep it strong prior to and during pregnancy. 

With over 25 million Americans experiencing incontinence, I am baffled that the issue is not publically talked about more often. It is estimated that about 40% of women will experience prolapse at some point in their life. When will we decide that these conditions deserve attention? Talking about them would encourage more people to get help, and, maybe even more importantly, take steps to prevent it. 

Instead, the silence only encourages the shame, embarrassment, and isolation that many people with incontinence experience.  It does nothing to help those who are experiencing the issue to know there are ways to treat it.  Nor does it educate those who have not experienced it to know that this is something that should be considered. Until we can all be more open and recognize that this is a problem worth talking about (shouting about!), we will be a society that continues to allow it’s people to ‘quietly manage their symptoms’ instead of really preventing or treating them. 

So please, speak up about your incontinence, your prolapse, or any other pelvic floor issue you may have. While it may be common, it’s not normal, and is nothing that anyone should have to suffer with in silence.

About the author:  Sally Connor is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and homemaker who suffered a prolapse after giving birth to her son. She has refused to let this symptom rule her life and strives to increase awareness of pelvic floor issues and what women can do about them by simply talking more about the issue.  She hopes that one day pelvic floor issues and incontinence will be a less taboo subject.

UTIs - What Causes Them And How To Avoid Them

UTIs - What Causes Them And How To Avoid Them

UTIs, or Urinary Tract Infections, will affect most women at some point in their lifetime.  UTI’s are recognized by the burning sensation they cause in the bladder or urethra (the tube that empties urine from the body) during urination, and the intense urge to urinate frequently – even if it is just a little amount.  Some women may also leak urine during a UTI, even if that isn’t something they normally experience.  Urine may also smell differently and appear cloudy or dark. 

UTI’s are not pleasant, but there are things you can do to prevent them.

The first thing you need to know is why UTIs happen.  UTIs are caused by the presence of bacteria in the urinary tract, which can then travel up to the bladder.  And, while the urinary tract does have several safe guards, which naturally help it to flush bacteria out, infections can still occur.  Infections are more common in women primarily due to their anatomy.  Bacteria from the bowel can easily sneak into the urethra because it is so close to the anus (This is why we wipe front to back people!), and women have much shorter urethras than men, which means bacteria can more easily get into the bladder.   Certain conditions can make people more prone to UTIs – those who wear catheters may be at an increased risk since it is harder to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. And anyone who has trouble emptying his or her bladder completely can also be at risk.  Sex can also contribute to UTIs since it can introduce new bacteria to the urethral opening.

The good news is that most UTIs don’t last long once treated.  Since the main cause of a UTI is often the presence of bacteria, antibiotics are usually used to treat them, and take roughly 2-3 days to work.  Drinking lots of water and fluids can also quicken your recovery time, because it helps you to flush out the bacteria out of your system. 

Here are some tips to avoid UTIs altogether:

Wipe front to back.

Keeping the Urethra clean and avoiding contact with bacteria from the anus or bowel can help prevent bacteria from entering the urinary tract in the first place.

Drink lots of fluids. 

Staying hydrated and drinking lots of water each day will help flush out any bacteria that may be present.

Urinate when you need to.

Holding urine in the bladder for longer than necessary only increases the chance that bacteria will multiply and cause an infection.

Urinate after having sex.

This helps get rid of any bacteria that may be lingering from intercourse.

If you do get a UTI, see a doctor right away for treatment. If left untreated, the bacteria can sometimes make its way to the kidneys and cause a more serious infection.

The Importance of Diet & Exercise In Preventing Diabetes

The Importance Of Diet And Exercise In Preventing Diabetes

We all know the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and getting consistent exercise into our daily lives.  But with over 29.1 million Americans living with Type 2 diabetes – that’s nearly 10% of us! – it’s more important than ever that we get ourselves in check. 

Type 2 diabetes is marked by high levels of blood sugar.  Typically, insulin (produced by the pancreas) helps process sugar (glucose) in the body. However, over time, those with Type 2 diabetes develop insulin resistance, a condition where the body does not use insulin properly and allows glucose to build up in the blood.  This starves the cells for energy and, over time, can create lots of other damage in the body, including to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, or the heart.  Nerve damage can sometimes also occur in the bladder, causing diabetics to experience incontinence. While men and women are both at risk for developing diabetes, men have been found to be more susceptible to the disease based purely on biology.

Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar with a healthy diet and regular exercise.  What does this look like? A diet rich in vegetables (these should take up half your plate!), fruit, lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy in moderate amounts, and healthy fats from things like avocado and nuts is best.  Additionally, getting 30 minutes of good exercises per day (think brisk walking, strength training, and stretching) at least 5 days a week can help keep your blood glucose in check, and lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

Want to learn more about how to prevent or manage diabetes with diet and exercise? Check out the recommendations from the American Diabetes Association and get yourself on the right path today.

Preparing Your Pelvic Floor For Pregnancy And Beyond

Preparing Your Pelvic Floor For Pregnancy

Preparing Your Pelvic Floor For Pregnancy

A guest blog written by Michelle Herbst, PT

Congratulations! As you prepare for your baby there is a lot to think about. Doctor’s appointments. Baby showers. Child care. Nervous talks with the Dad-to-be. And, don’t forget - YOU. When you start sharing your news - everyone will give you advice. Some stories will be embellished for the good and others will be overstated for how difficult their pregnancy was. But, keep in mind - this is your experience.

Realistic Expectations:

Some Moms-to-be have problems with leakage. Others do not. A positive pregnancy test does not mean you will develop incontinence or a prolapse - which is a descent of the pelvic organs into the vaginal canal. But, normal changes during pregnancy and the process of labor and delivery can set up the conditions for incontinence and prolapse to occur.  

So, here is my advice as a Mom and a physical therapist for preparing your mind and body for your big day.

Kegel:

You will read about these. Your OB Nurse will ask, ‘Are you doing Kegels?’ But, why are Kegels so important during pregnancy?

Performing Kegels during pregnancy can help you prevent or manage bouts of leakage, and will also help you tune in and tone the muscles that will help push and slide your baby out of the birth canal. Here are a more few reasons why Kegels are so important:

-        To establish a mind-body connection of how the kegel muscles feel when activated.

-        To help create stability of spine and pelvis as your baby grows.

-        To prepare for the arrival of your baby and protection of your pelvic organs during delivery.

Labor can be quick or long. Labor can be easy or difficult. You do not get to choose. But, with preparation of your mind and muscles, along with the skills of your birthing team, the end result will be you holding your precious new baby.

Thoughts on Kegels during Pregnancy:

Think of the pelvic floor as a muscular sling that is tethered between your pelvic bone and tailbone. During pregnancy and labor the pelvic floor muscles lengthen but also need to be able push. The goal of performing Kegels during pregnancy is to improve the strength and function of the pelvic floor as well as encourage lengthening of the pelvic floor muscles.

When performing a Kegel it will feel like a gentle tightening and lifting up and in of the muscles between the pubic bone and tail bone. You may also feel a slight tightening between the belly button and pubic bone. That is your abdominals helping out too. That is OK. Now, hold the Kegel as you inhale and exhale. Relax, and let your pelvic floor muscles return to a normal resting tone or sensation.

The Kegel is a cyclic contraction. It is a shortening of the muscle fibers followed by a relaxation and lengthening of the muscles. If you contract the pelvic floor, and follow that with another pelvic floor contraction without focusing on letting the muscles relax and lengthen, you are training the pelvic floor to become shortened strong muscles not the lengthened strong muscles needed to help push and slide your baby out.

Squat:

Yes – squat. Deep squatting is a normal position to void and give birth. Performing a deep squat as an exercise will help you prepare for the positioning and muscle work needed during delivery.  Deep squatting will open your hips, aide in lengthening the pelvic floor and strengthen your glutes. 

How do I do this?

Slowly work into a squat. You may want to or need to keep your squat shallow by holding onto the back of a sturdy chair or counter top as you start bending at your hips and knees. Keep your gaze forward. Work on keeping your knees behind your toes or stacked above your ankle. Think about keeping your shins perpendicular to the floor. If you are able to get into a deep squat, you may want to place your hands at your chest and gently push your elbows to the inside of your knees.

How long and how many?

This will depend on you. You may want to focus on working into and holding the deep squat. Once you have achieved a deep squat you can work on relaxing into this position. Or, you may want to perform slow repetitions of a shallow squat to standing position and put your emphasis on tightening the glutes when returning to standing.

There really isn’t a right or wrong way – just your way and your focus or intent of the exercise. Pay attention to how you feel and listen to your body.

Your Story:

There will be aspects of your pregnancy and the arrival of your baby that you will not be able to control. But, remember, this is your story. You can prepare your mind and body to set up the best possible set of circumstances to deliver a healthy YOU to motherhood. 

 
 

Ask The Expert: Physical Therapy After Childbirth

ASK THE EXPERT

ASK THE EXPERT

Each month, we ask an expert to answer one of our reader's questions.  This month we're happy to welcome Victoria Yeisly, DPT as our expert contributor.

Question: I’ve heard that in Europe it is standard for most women to begin physical therapy to strengthen their pelvic floor as soon as they have given birth.

Do you think women in the United States should be seeing a PT after having a baby, regardless of whether they are having symptoms or not?

Expert Answer:Absolutely!  I support this practice for any woman after having a baby, including both vaginal and C-section deliveries.  Think about it, during the pregnancy, the body changes so drastically, so quickly!  Ligaments loosen; alignment changes, hormones fluctuate, and anywhere from 20-50 lbs may be gained.  Then, you either push a baby out of your vagina or have a major abdominal surgery.  To think that the body just heals and is “back to normal” 6 weeks postpartum is just ridiculous.  In the OB practice where I work, there are 4 of us pelvic floor PTs integrated with the doctors and midwives to help serve this population so women can return to pre-baby function with greater ease and comfort.  In my opinion, this should be the standard of practice for all women.  At minimum, doctors and midwives should at least be making each woman aware of this treatment and let them decide if pelvic floor PT should be a part of their postpartum rehabilitation.  

Have a question you'd like answered? Ask us! Your question may be featured in an upcoming Ask An Expert post!

About Our Expert:  Victoria Yeisley, DPT, has been exclusively practicing pelvic floor physical therapy for the past eight years, with an emphasis on prenatal and post-partum care.  She currently lives in Chicago, IL, and practices at Northwestern Medical Group OBGYN, where she is integrated into the OBGYN healthcare team, as well as working at Chicago Physical Therapists, a private practice.  Victoria is passionate about the care and support of women during the childbearing years and her goal is to increase the awareness of the importance of women's health and treating pelvic floor dysfunction throughout the lifespan.  She is currently pregnant with her first child and expecting in June of 2016!

4 Bad Habits That May Be Contributing To Your Incontinence

4 habits that may contribute to incontinence

Think Incontinence is just something that happens to us as we age?  Think again.  Incontinence affects over 25 million Americans, and can happen to anyone, at any age. 

There are many things that may put you at risk for bladder leaks, including these four lifestyle habits:

Smoking. 

Need yet another reason to kick this bad habit?  Smoking is a bladder irritant, which can cause overactive bladder symptoms, such as urge incontinence.  Many think that the nicotine in cigarettes may increase bladder contractions, which can contribute to these symptoms.  In addition, chronic coughing, which many smokers experience, puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the pelvic floor, causing it to weaken over time.  Quit smoking for good to eliminate this possible contributor to incontinence.

Not getting good exercise. 

Staying active every day is important for your overall health, but did you know that it also helps keep your bladder and bowel in check too?  Incorporating regular physical activity, such as walking for 30 minutes each day, helps to stimulate the muscular activity of your bowel, keeping you regular.  It also ensures that you maintain a healthy body weight, which reduces the pressure felt on your pelvic floor.  Incorporating specific pelvic floor exercises into your routine can ensure that you are maintaining good pelvic floor strength, which also helps you to better control leaks.

Keeping A Poor Diet. 

We all know that eating well is important.  But a poor diet can also cause bladder or bowel problems by making you constipated.  Constipation contributes to bladder or bowel leakage in a few ways. The rectum and the bladder share many of the same nerves, and constipation can cause these nerves to be overactive and increase urinary frequency (a symptom of overactive bladder).  Additionally, chronic constipation can stretch the sphincter muscles over time, making them too weak and causing fecal incontinence.  Incorporating fiber into your diet can help to keep you regular and avoid constipation.

Not keeping your weight in check.

Being overweight puts additional stress on the pelvic floor. Over time, this can cause the pelvic floor to weaken, and can lead to incontinence symptoms.  Obesity can also lead to Type 2 diabetes, which can cause nerve damage in the bladder or bowel.  Keep your weight in check by sticking to a daily exercise routine and maintaining a healthy diet.

The Importance Of Posture

The Importance Of Posture

When talking about incontinence and the pelvic floor, we often tend to hear advice about strengthening our muscles with exercises such as Kegels.  However, did you know that one of the best things you can do for your pelvic floor on a regular basis is to keep good posture?  Maintaining proper posture helps to keep the pelvic floor in the most optimal position to give good support and can prevent our muscles from being too loose ore to tense. 

So, what is good posture?  And how do you know if you are achieving it?  It takes practice, but with a little concentration you can learn how to hold good posture in both a standing and a sitting position.

We love this guide by Tasha Mulligan over at Hab-it on how to find your neutral spine and hold it in both a sitting and standing position.  Check it out, and start implementing good posture as one of the most essential tools to help you keep your pelvic floor in alignment.

5 PT-Friendly Exercises You Can Do With Your Family

The holiday season can be one of blessings and abundance. But, all the celebration – or the preparation for the celebrations – can leave one feeling stressed. Getting multiple families together can be challenging but the reward is often great.  But what to do about the tension of arranging these get-togethers? How about thinking about exercise as a great stress buster. Instead of reaching for that extra cocktail during your family get together why not think about a few PT-approved exercises you can do with the whole family during the holiday season to stay happy and healthy.

Walk Together

A brisk walk is good for your heart. And as a bonus, you may get a good a heart-to-heart chat in while exercising your muscles, lungs and building bone mass. This is one of the best ways to burn off all those extra calories that are generally consumed this time of year. J

Take a Deep Breath

Deep breathing not only helps keep you relaxed but also keeps your lungs healthy. Germs tend to bred in our climate controlled indoor environments. But, taking a deep breath especially outdoors can help keep the lungs clear and can be calming.

Laugh a little

Laughter can be good for the soul. A good belly roll can relax the shoulders and is a great abdominal and pelvic floor exercise. So, put in a comedy, play some cards or relive old stories about Uncle Dave wearing dirty underwear. Just let the good times roll, or belly roll for that matter.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes

Challenge the young and older family members in playing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Believe me – the preschool-aged family members will know this sing-song of a game. Here is how it goes. Sing … head, shoulder, etc while touching your head, then shoulders with both hands. Each time around sing faster. It will be great to keep the joints moving and is a guaranteed way to get everyone laughing.

Water. Would anyone like water?

Dehydration. Stress. Full tummy. Can be a trifecta that can aggravate incontinence. So, let’s enjoy a glass of water or two to every glass of wine, beer or cocktail. You can do it. You will feel better and your bladder will thank you for it.

Happy Holidays! 

About the Author, Michelle Herbst:   I am a wife and mother with a passion of helping women live to their fullest potential.  I am a women’s health physical therapist and for nearly decade have helped women with musculoskeletal conditions during their pregnancies, postpartum period and into their golden years.

About the Author, Michelle Herbst:  I am a wife and mother with a passion of helping women live to their fullest potential.  I am a women’s health physical therapist and for nearly decade have helped women with musculoskeletal conditions during their pregnancies, postpartum period and into their golden years.

Download The NAFC Bladder and Bowel Diaries!

Download The NAFC Bladder And Bowel Diaries

Download The NAFC Bladder And Bowel Diaries

Keeping track of your bathroom habits isn’t easy but having the right tools readily available can really make a difference.

It may seem a little strange at first, but keeping a bladder or bowel diary it is a great way for you to see trends over time and learn what types of foods and drinks trigger your incontinence.  Not only will you gain insight into your condition, but it will also aid your doctor in knowing what type of incontinence you suffer from and help him or her develop a more customized treatment plan for you.  

Our Best Tips For Disconnecting

Being a caregiver is often an around-the-clock job that demands a lot of energy, patience, and devotion. Remember to take the time to give yourself rest and relaxation.

Our best rule of thumb is preached before every plane takes off, “Assist yourself before assisting others.” If you don’t take care of your own body, you won’t be able to take care of others’. It's very important to carve out some time for yourself to relax and recharge.

Try our top three tips for disconnecting and relaxing:

1.    Go on a walk somewhere new.

Going to new places is always a great way to stretch your senses and try something different because a new place requires you to focus solely on your new environment.

Take a walk in a new place and soak up the fresh air and new location.

2.    Turn off your phone at a certain time every day. 

Get into a habit of turning off your phone at the same time every day so you can set a tone of unwinding and relaxing without screen time. Use this scheduling tactic to help you connect in the moment with people you’re with.

3.    Go to a coffee shop or quiet bookstore once a month on your own.

Stepping outside your environment helps you to relax without having all the normal distractions of home. Find a place near your home that offers a quiet, soothing atmosphere for you to relax with a book or a magazine. Make it your retreat every other week or once a month and commit to going.

We believe in settling down and taking stock in quiet time. How do you take care of yourself and disconnect?

Misconceptions About Being A Mom And Bladder Health

Moms and Bladder Health

Becoming a mother is one of the most joyful things that can happen to a woman.  But it can also be challenging.  Not only are you dealing with the demanding task of raising a little one, your own body is undergoing constant change as well.  There are a lot of misconceptions out there about how our bodies should perform after we have kids - many of them false.  Take a read below and learn some of the most common misconceptions around bladder health and becoming a mother.  

Misconceptions around bladder health and becoming a mother

Fact or Myth?  After having kids, it’s normal to pee a little when I laugh, sneeze, run, etc.

Myth. While this can happen for a few months after childbirth, it is not something that is “normal.” It should be dealt with.  Talk to your doctor or a trained physical therapist about some exercises that may help get you back to normal, and product suggestions that can help you manage incontinence in the meantime.

Fact or Myth?  If you’ve had kids, you can expect to have urinary incontinence or OAB when you become older.

Myth.  It’s true that sometimes incontinence does not rear it’s ugly head until well after you’ve had your children – often in your 40’s or 50’s.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s a sure thing you will suffer from incontinence – especially if you are proactive in getting your pelvic floor strong now.  It’s never too late to start incorporating your pelvic floor into your workout routine.

Fact or Myth?  I might as well get used to being incontinent – now that I’ve had a baby there is nothing I can really do about it anyway.

Myth.  As we mentioned above, incontinence is certainly not normal, and there are a host of things that you can do to manage, and even fix it for good.  For starters, adult absorbent products can help you manage immediate leaks that you may be suffering from post childbirth until you are able to build up your strength again.   When you schedule your 6-week postpartum check up with your doctor, schedule a visit with your physical therapist as well – it’s a great time for an initial evaluation and you can learn some good postpartum exercises to start right away.  And if you are still feeling like things are not quite right after a couple of months, talk with your doctor about what you can do.

Fact or Myth:  I don’t have to worry about working on my pelvic floor until after I’ve had the baby.

Myth.  One of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for childbirth is to start working out your pelvic floor today.  Not only will it make your delivery easier, but you will be that much stronger and your recovery in the postpartum days ahead will be much faster.

Did Your Mom Or Grandma Talk About Bladder Health With You?

Talking About Bladder Health

It’s a rare day when we people tell us their family has a known history of bladder and bowel concerns. So often, a struggle with overactive bladder is considered a rite of passage with childbirth, or an enlarged prostate is chocked up to older age. While age and the stress of childbirth are two predominant factors in both of those symptoms, it can still be very helpful for families to learn when and why their loved ones experienced struggles with continence so they can take proactive measures to avoid the same circumstances.

Two examples of how this could play out are outlined below: 

·      A woman experiences leakage and stress incontinence after having a baby, only to hear from their mothers that they experienced the same thing.

·      A man tells his parents about his latest test result only to hear his father say, “Oh yea. I struggled with an enlarged prostate before I finally went to the doctor last year.”

In the examples above, both individuals with new bladder health concerns could have taken preventative measures to lessen the chances of them getting to the point they are now.

The woman could’ve talked to her yoga or Pilates instructor and asked for tips to build her pelvic floor before labor and delivery. Or, when she built her birthing plan with her Doctor, she could’ve stressed consideration her Mother’s past experiences.

If the man had known his father’s situation, he could’ve talked to his doctor about his family history during his yearly check up months earlier. Maybe his father’s experience would’ve spurred him to take note of his prostate health much sooner.

We encourage an open dialogue about bladder and bowel concerns for two reasons: being transparent can help future generations learn how to best care for their bodies and being honest about a health concern can foster a community of family and friends who keep you accountable to a treatment plan.

When’s the last time you spoke to your family about bladder health? Share your experience below.

How Sun Exposure Can Help You And Your Patients

We’ve all heard the warnings about too much sun exposure.  But did you know that some sun is actually beneficial to your health? 

Benefits Of Sun Exposure

Spending just 15 minutes in the sun each day can be healing and preventative for your health. 

Here are some big reasons to get out and enjoy the sun when you can:

Sunlight gives you a natural boost. 

Exposure to sunlight increases serotonin, which regulates appetite, sleep, memory, and mood.  Low serotonin levels are often seen during the winter months, when we spend much of the time indoors, and can contribute to seasonal affective disorder. 

It may lower your blood pressure. 

A study done in 2014 showed that exposure to UVA rays lowered subjects diastolic blood pressure by almost 5 points. 

Sunlight can improve your sleep. 

Exposure to natural sunlight increases the natural production of melatonin (a hormone that helps you sleep) at night.

Increased Vitamin D. 

We’ve heard many times that the vitamin D produced from being in the sun can help your mood, but it also contributes to a host of other benefits.  Increased vitamin D may help prevent cancer, may lower risk for multiple sclerosis, and can contribute to bone health in older adults.

While these benefits are impressive, you still do need to use caution.  Skin cancer is still a risk, so limit your exposure to natural, direct sunlight to about 15 minutes per day, and then use sunscreen to safely enjoy the outdoors for the rest of the day.  

What's your favorite way to spend time in the sun?