What causes young adult and teenage incontinence?
SUI is the most prevalent type of incontinence in women. A healthy pelvic floor is key to maintaining a leak-free bladder. Your pelvic floor consists of layered muscles that create a hammock-type support for your bladder and other pelvic organs. When these muscles are stretched out or damaged, the bladder is not strong enough to function properly, resulting in incontinence.
Childbirth and advanced age are leading contributors to urinary incontinence. However, in young women who haven’t been pregnant, exercise is the primary cause of teenage incontinence. High-impact sports, such as running, CrossFit, or jumping rope, can traumatize your pelvic floor. The increased pressure of lifting heavy weights or doing intense moves, such as repeated burpees and weighted squats, can damage your pelvic floor muscles. And when your pelvic floor cannot support the bladder adequately, the mechanisms for retaining and releasing urine are compromised, resulting in incontinence.
I’ve never leaked. Why should I care about pelvic floor health?
Just because you haven’t experienced teenage incontinence doesn’t mean you will never develop bladder leaks. Incontinence affects about 1 in 3 women at some point, but prevention now can make a big difference later.
Prevention starts by educating yourself about pelvic floor and bladder health. Another step is to actively maintain a toned and strong pelvic floor. These two strategies will help you be more aware of any irregularities in your pelvic floor so you can act quickly to find solutions. Kegel exercises are the most common way to exercise and tone your pelvic floor muscles. Talk to your physician as well as older women in your community to learn more about bladder health and solutions for bladder leakage.
I already leak. What can I do?
If you’re experiencing occasional bladder leaks when exercising or sneezing, don’t worry! There are many strategies to reduce or even eliminate annoying leaks.
- Kegel Exercises. Something every woman can do to improve pelvic floor health is to practice Kegel exercises. These exercises can be done anytime and don’t take long. Kegels involve contracting and holding your pelvic floor muscles at regular intervals. When done correctly, Kegels effectively strengthen and tighten pelvic floor muscles.
- Modified Workouts. While you are toning and strengthening your pelvic floor, try to limit high-impact activities that cause your leaks. Stick to workouts that don’t put a lot of pressure on your pelvic muscles, such as power walking, swimming, and yoga.
- Body Weight. Talk to your physician to determine if your weight is contributing to your incontinence. Losing weight can help alleviate pressure on your pelvic floor and restore control of your bladder.