Question: Sometimes when I exercise or even just laugh, I pee a little. Is there anything I can do?
Would it help with the mortification to know you’re not alone? About one in four adult women has what’s called stress urinary incontinence, which means that sudden pressure on your bladder -- like laughing, coughing, or jumping -- can overwhelm your pelvic floor muscles and lead to a few dribbles.
The best solution? Strengthen those muscles with Kegel exercises, says our friend Miriam Graham, a Maryland physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor health. Miriam recommends doing 30 or more Kegels every day. If your pelvic floor muscles are very weak, however, you might have a hard time finding them, let alone squeezing them. In that case, Miriam says, talk to a physical therapist about electric stimulation and biofeedback (both painless), which will help you isolate and strengthen the right muscles. Dr. Joseph Montella, who directs the urogynecology department at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, counsels patience. “It can take eight weeks to see results,” he tells us.
While you’re waiting, drink plenty of water, Miriam says. Skimping on the hydration can lead not only to incontinence-causing bladder infections but also stronger-smelling urine. Also, suggests Joe, you might try inserting a tampon before an activity that caused you to leak before -- but place it a little lower than you would during your period. “It’s not to absorb the urine, but to compress the urethra,” he says. And that, sisters, is how to laugh, sneeze, and jump without fear.