Your "First" of stuff is important.
Your first steps.
Eating solid food.
Getting your period.
Your first kiss.
Your first baby.
Peeing in your pants when you run across the street to catch the bus.
Most of these are rights of passage, like winter turning into Spring (finally).
Peeing in your pants...is NOT.
Key in the doorknob urgency to go. Stopping every hour on a car trip to go. Carrying extra underwear and pants with you at all times, just "in case."
Women of a certain age know what I'm talking about. It's a shock when it happens to you that first time. When it becomes a more regular event you consider wearing pads and you go to THAT aisle at the grocery store.
I don't know about you, but I was shocked when I perused the aisles and realized how many different products there are now for incontinence of urine. I shouldn't be surprised. We do have a ballooning population of baby boomers.
In the past, women hid in shame and expected it was normal. Doctors didn't ask, and women didn't volunteer the information.
There are many causes of incontinence.
There is something that can be done for most causes of urinary incontinence.
You don't have to be like this Buddha, hiding away.
So why do women develop incontinence and men don't until they have prostate problems? Well it's not all that straightforward but to start with, the urethra, a little tube that leads from your bladder to the outside is very short in women. If you think about it, the urethra in men is very long. It goes from the bladder all the way through the penis to the outside of the body. Lots of room to prevent incontinence. But men DO develop incontinence.
Wouldn't it be nice, ladies, to just be able to drop trou and pee anywhere, like guys, and dogs?
The muscles in the pelvic floor have to hold up against the gravity and weight of all of the abdominal and pelvic organs pressing down through the hole in the bottom of the pelvic bone. (see below-there is a big hole in the bottom of the pelvis and "stuff" can fall out)
Carrying babies, pushing out babies, getting fat and getting older stretches the muscles out and the organs push down through the hole. Sometimes, they prolapse or evert (the vagina or the rectum can start turning inside out and push out).
Women have three holes, if you will, in the pelvic floor. The Urethra, the vagina, and the rectum. Three places where things can fall down through. Vaginal and bladder prolapse are often associated with incontinence. Prolapse is just a fancy word for things kind of turning inside out and falling out. Also another cause is the ligaments that hold the bladder up tearing or stretching out of place.
I blame my children. It's all their fault.
Next Blog Post, More about Incontinence. Types, Treatment, and (gasp) physical therapy for the pelvic floor.