TMI Thursday: Stress Incontinence | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


This post is going to come with a warning – we are going to get up close and personal about our lady parts.  Guys, you might want to skip this one.  Ladies, if you don’t yourself deal with the occasional leaking I’m sure you know someone who does.  Yes, we are talking about pee.  Specifically, peeing on ourselves.

A little post I’m calling TMI Thursday: Stress Incontinence

I can honestly say, I really had no plans to ever tackle this subject, but I’m often asked for advice through our Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans and Run With the Sisterhood Facebook pages.  The question “why am I peeing on myself when I run?” showed up in one of our inboxes last week.  I’ve seen the topic come up before and decided, in addition to answering her question directly, I would try to cover the subject here as well.  That being said, I must also say that I am not a doctor nor a physical therapist.  If you are having issues with stress incontinence, I strongly recommend you speak with your OBGYN or GP because there could be a medical reason.

Is it just us girls now?  Good, let’s get started.

What is “Stress Incontinence”?  Simply stated, SI is urinary incontinence that occurs when an activity, such as running, coughing, lifting things or sneezing, causes a small amount of urine to leak from the bladder due to increased pressure on the bladder due to some physical change in the body.  The individual may feel a few drops or even a full stream of urine.  It is the most common type of urinary incontinence in women and is most common in women who have had children.

There are a number of possible causes of SI:  Weak pelvic floor muscles due to pregnancy and childbirth, surgery, changes in the body due to menopause or menstruation, changes to the muscles of the bladder itself, as well as chronic coughing, smoking and obesity can lead to SI.  Having a bladder infection can also contribute.

Treatment of SI depends largely on the cause.   It is recommended you seek the advice of a physician but there are a few exercises you can try in the meantime.

  • Kegel exercises – this is probably the most common treatment for SI.  If the muscles of the pelvic floor are week, urine is more likely to leak when you are physically active.  These exercises strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus and bowels.  To exercise these muscles, you first need to figure out where they are.  The easiest way to do this is to stop the flow of urine the next time you go to the bathroom.  If you can make yourself stop peeing, you’ve isolated the correct muscles.  (Only do these while urinating to find the muscle.  Doing Kegels regularly during urination can actually weaken the muscle further and result in bladder infections.) Another method is to imagine you are holding in gas.  To complete the exercise, you squeeze the muscles (with an empty bladder) for 5-10 sec.  Try to do 10 repetitions 3-5 times per day.  This is one exercise you can literally do ANYWHERE.  Stoplights, in the elevator, sitting at your desk.  If you are doing them correctly, no one should be able to tell.  If you are having trouble doing them, don’t be afraid to ask a professional.  Physical therapists can help using biofeedback and may be able to offer more assistance.  For more info on Kegels, go here.
  • Weight loss, stop smoking
  • Bladder training and timed voiding (peeing) – keep a log of when you need to urinate and when you are having leakage.  Time your trips to the bathroom accordingly and then work to increase the time between trips.
  • Devices (a pessary – which puts pressure on the urethra from the vaginal wall to keep the urethra in the proper position), surgery, and injections may be used as a last resort.  For these treatments, sometimes the side effects or risks are worse than the incontinence.
  • If the leakage is bothersome during exercise, there are pads designed specifically for urinary incontinence.  Don’t use regular menstrual pads.

Urinary incontinence, and stress incontinence in particular, is a highly underreported condition.  Many estimates suggest approximately half of all women between the ages of 20 and 80 have experienced it from time to time.  So, if it happens to you, you are most certainly not alone.  Now, go do your Kegels 🙂

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