Do you pee when you sneeze?
This is sort of a sensitive question and topic, and this might be too personal for some of us to answer. But asking this question and seeking out treatment has really changed my life for the better, so I thought I had better share it.
Be warned now if we know each other in real life—this might be TMI. Continue reading at your own risk.
I have three kids. One of my babies was especially huge (almost 10 pounds!), and let’s just say these pregnancies and aging have really impacted my pelvic floor’s health. Specifically—I had problems with urine leaking whenever I did anything more strenuous than walking.
Sneezing. Jogging. Jumping. Lifting weights. Coughing. Anything. It was a mess.
I like to be active. I am not as fit nor as strong as I was in my 20s, but I still enjoy exercising as I creep towards the tail end of my 30s. With this problem, my ability to exercise was limited. If I wanted to go for a run, it had to be in the morning before I drank anything. No water, no coffee, etc. I absolutely couldn’t run later in the day without coming home with wet pants. I also couldn’t drink anything during the run, so longer distances were challenging.
Other forms of exercise and daily life were limited as well.
No cross-training. No jump roping. No heavy weight lifting. I finally found spin class, and that was a good fit. But I missed being able to move like I wanted to with my kids. And when I got sick with a cold? Every sneeze and cough necessitated new pants.
Enough was enough.
I finally decided to seek treatment. I found Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy from an internet search. Tricare covered the treatment at an office near my house, and I made an appointment. The physical therapist said she could definitely help, so I signed up.
Let me just say—it wasn’t what I expected.
What I expected was to do some lunges or something of a similar nature. I even wore exercise-type clothes for my first appointment. But I feel that I should warn you: It involved much more…nakedness (at least from the waist down). Basically, there is a sensor that would go inside of me, no bigger than a tampon. The therapist could read how hard I was squeezing and where I was squeezing my pelvic floor on a device connected to the sensor. It was awkward, to say the least.
My PT acted like it was no big deal, though, so I tried to act like I totally do stuff like this all the time.
And … it worked.
I went twice a week for a few weeks, then once a week for a month or so. Then I went every other week. In less than 3 months, I was much better. I learned how to activate my pelvic floor. I strengthened existing muscles. Once I learned what my pelvic floor felt like, I could pay close attention to it during physical activity.
Pelvic floor PT has helped me immensely.
The therapy and treatment have given me back the exercises I missed. I can exercise more closely to the way I want again. I can jog at any time of day. I recently started at a CrossFit gym, and I can jump rope, lift, and hop around without peeing all over myself (a big plus). I also recently started working after being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, and I can sneeze or cough in front of a group of people without crossing my legs or fearing a bladder accident.
Pelvic floor PT also helped with pain during my cycle. I often felt such an intense downward pressure in my cervix on the first day of my cycle that made it difficult to even stand up without intense pain. Since I underwent treatment, that pain has subsided dramatically.
I am writing this incredibly embarrassing article to let you know that if you are like me, you can find help.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is covered by Tricare. It doesn’t actually take that long, and you could be feeling much better in just a few months.
My advice: Swallow your pride/embarrassment, get an appointment with a specially trained physical therapist (and your very own vaginal pelvic floor sensor), and get to work. I am so glad that I did.