Bladder Control Types
There are a variety of different types of urinary incontinence that women experience. Three of the basic types are:
1. Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) occurs because of weak pelvic floor muscles and/or a deficient urethral sphincter, causing the bladder to leak during coughing, sneezing, laughing, strenuous or high impact exercise, such as running, heavy lifting and jumping, or potentially any body movement which puts pressure on the bladder. When pelvic and sphincter muscles are strong, they can handle the extra pressure from a cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise. When these muscles are weak, that sudden pressure can push urine out of the bladder.1
2. Urge Incontinence is characterized by an excessive or sudden urge to urinate and can occur as often as every 45 minutes. It is more prevalent in post-menopausal patients, but is known to afflict younger women, as well.1 An overactive bladder may result in urge incontinence. With this type of incontinence, you feel a strong urge to void, but cannot make it to the bathroom in time to avoid leaking.
Overactive bladder is a condition that involves sudden, involuntary contractions of the bladder creating a sudden urge to go. Feelings of urgency may come with certain situations, such as being nervous before an appointment, hearing, seeing or touching water, or arriving home and knowing a bathroom is near. Bladder irritants, such as coffee, can also contribute to urgency. Frequency is another common result of an overactive bladder. Frequency results when feelings of urgency lead to trips to the bathroom 20-30 times a day and/or getting up multiple times at night.
3. Mixed Incontinence is the most common and occurs when symptoms of both stress and urge types of incontinence are present. In this case a weakened sphincter mechanism is overcome by a sudden bladder contraction resulting in urine leakage. You may leak urine with a laugh or sneeze at one time. At another time, you may have a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate just before you leak or accident.1
Why Pelvic Muscles Matter
Your pelvic floor muscles are perhaps one of the most important muscles groups in your body. The pelvic floor is a large hammock of muscles stretching from one side of your pelvis to the other. These muscles support the pelvic organs (bladder, rectum and uterus). Most bladder control problems are caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles.1 Like any other muscle in your body, your pelvic muscles may lose tone if you don’t exercise them. In fact, without regular resistance exercise, pelvic floor muscles can lose up to 80% of their strength by the time a woman turns 65.2 As with any other muscle, this doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a gradual process that begins as early as your late teens.2
Weakened, thinner pelvic floor muscles can compromise your ability to maintain bladder control, and decrease vaginal sensation and may eventually lead to prolapse, which is the sagging of your pelvic organs. Many women consider this just a normal part of aging. Luckily, when these muscles get weak, you can help make them strong again. Pelvic floor muscles are just like other muscles and exercise can make them stronger. Exercising your pelvic floor muscles for just 5 minutes a day can make a big difference in your bladder control.
Muscle weakness is caused by added weight and pressure placed on the bladder and pelvic muscles, which can stem from weight gain, strenuous exercise, frequent constipation, pregnancy and childbirth.3 In addition, woman may experience leaks and accidents during and after menopause when women produce less estrogen, a hormone that keeps the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy. Women also produce less progesterone, which also may contribute to dryness, weakness and thinning of the pelvic floor muscles.
Strong pelvic floor muscles are critical to the health of the pelvic region. These muscles span the pelvis, supporting the pelvic organs and providing passage for the openings from the bladder, urethra and rectum. Strong pelvic muscles help reduce or eliminate bladder leaks and accidents, improve symptoms of frequent urges, prevent pelvic organ relaxation and enhance vaginal tone and sexual response.
Why Kegels Alone May Not Be Enough
The “Kegel” exercises, or progressive resistance exercises, were first advocated by Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1948 for the restoration of the perineal muscles and now recommended for women with stress, urge and mixed incontinence.4
Dr. Kegel developed a vaginal balloon perineometer to teach pelvic muscle exercises. Unfortunately, clinicians taught Kegel exercises without the use of instrumentation. It has been shown that verbal or written instructions alone are often inadequate and that up to 50% of patients perform Kegel exercises incorrectly. There is a strong tendency to substitute abdominal and gluteal contractions for weak pelvic floor muscles.4
Women often don’t perform the exercises long enough or often enough. Uncertain whether they are executing the exercises correctly, they often discontinue their regimen.4
That's why our clinicians and designers built upon the treatment used by healthcare professionals to treat pelvic floor weakness. The Myself® Trainer is a simple, clinically studied and effective solution that women can use successfully on their own. It is designed by a urologist and FDA-cleared. And it has not been associated with any side effects.