By Erin McCoy
Women make most of the health care decisions for families. We schedule the appointments, make the clinic visits, and consider the health of our families to be our responsibility. But when it comes to our own health, we often ignore persistent problems or nagging aches and pains. We write it off as just another effect of getting older, or a consequence of having children. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of pelvic floor disorders.
Pelvic floor disorders can be the cause of back pain, pelvic pain or incontinence. Many women try to live with these symptoms while managing a busy life. You may try to avoid lifting your children. It may cause you to have difficulty getting down to the floor to play with grandchildren. You might dread laughing, sneezing, coughing or jumping.
You simply don’t have to live this way. Many treatment options exist that can dramatically improve symptoms arising from pelvic floor disorders. Simple dietary changes can decrease production of bladder irritants. Behavioral therapy, biofeedback, pelvic muscle rehabilitation, bladder training, and/or medications are available to help with urge incontinence, stress incontinence, and pain.
All ages and both genders can benefit from pelvic rehabilitation: children with nighttime wetting, pregnant and post-partum women, peri-menopausal and menopausal women, women diagnosed with pelvic prolapse or pelvic pain, and men after prostatectomy or with benign prostate hyperplasia.
In order to be at your best for everyone in your world, you need to be the strongest version of yourself. Seek help from a professional.
Erin McCoy, PT, is director of rehabilitation services at Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria.
Common Bladder Irritants
Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
Caffeine (in coffee, soda and tea)
Cold remedies and Vitamin C
Cranberry juice or pills
Candy and other sugars
Chili and other tomato-based products
Not all of the above will cause bladder irritation in every person. Avoid the offenders on the list for up to one week. Slowly add back some and see what your response is. Limit caffeine and alcohol – they are the worst offenders. Drink water!