Do You Pee When You Workout?

Chloe Pedley Jul 23, 2017 0 comments 1

Pin this for later

Have I ever told you about the time when I was 11 and I peed my pants in front of my entire primary school carnival? I was at the front of the tunnel ball line, and the starter said "Ready, Set Go" and I ready, set went... in front of everyone. I was so embarrassed. I felt every eye at school watching as I couldn't control the flood of urine. At age 11, I was still a bed wetter. I had urge and stress incontinence, and it took nearly two decades of my life to finally realise that this wasn't normal.

Incontinence is mortifying. It impacts so much of our lives. It's common, affecting 1 in 3 women. (Incontinence affects men too, but that's a whole other article. There are some great resources here if you need them for the men in your life)

But it's not normal.

You deserve to have a functional, competent, leak proof pelvic floor.

One more time for the people in the back: Urinary Incontinence is NOT NORMAL.

Because it's so common, women aren't seeking help for their incontinence, we've NORMALISED this dysfunction, and it's got to stop. A recent survey found these statistics, and it's enough to make me cry:

  • 45 per [of women surveyed] cent did not seek treatment because they didn’t consider it a serious enough health issue;
  • 77 per cent knew pelvic floor muscle exercises could prevent or improve incontinence, but only 2 per cent performed pelvic floor muscle exercises the recommended three times a day; and
  • Sneezing and coughing are the most common triggers of incontinence (68 and 65 per cent respectively).

Think about how we've normalised incontinence into our daily life, in our language "Piss myself laughing" "I laughed so hard I peed a little" in the media; we see ads for continence products, and in fitness peeing when you lift is nearly a badge of honour.

Think about how we've normalised incontinence into our daily life, in our language "Piss myself laughing" "I laughed so hard I peed a little" in the media; we see ads for continence products, and in fitness peeing when you lift is nearly a badge of honour.

There are different ways we leak:

Stress Incontinence:

Stress incontinence is when we leak urine under bladder pressure. Often when we sneeze, cough, workout, lift, laugh. It's sometimes made worse after childbirth, as our pelvic floor muscles are stretched and weakened by the growth of our tiny humans.  As we age and approach menopause, our bodies produce less oestrogen (estrogen if you're reading in the states!) Oestrogen helps keep the lining of the urethra thick and able to close and seal off.  As a result, some women will experience stress incontinence as they go through menopause.

Urge Incontinence

Urge is the sudden, overwhelming urge to urinate. Sometimes it's referred to as an over-active bladder. When it's functioning normally the muscle that controls the bladder relaxes as the bladder gradually fills up. When it's full, you feel the urge to wee, and you go to the bathroom and empty your bladder. When you're suffering from urge incontinence, the bladder contracts before it's full - meaning you'll suddenly need to pee, and you might not make it to the toilet.

Sometimes you might be up several times a night needing to pee urgently.

Research is still being done to truly understand urge incontinence, but we know that stress, caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks can make symptoms worse.

Functional Incontinence

Somewhat less related to fitness, but certainly related to women's health  - functional incontinence is when a person doesn't recognise the need to go to the  toilet, or doesn't recognise where the toilet is, resulting in toileting in incorrect places. This can be due to factors such as dementia, disease, inability to be mobile to get to the toilet, and other environmental factors like poor lighting, chairs that are too difficult to get out of and poor eyesight.

Incontinence associated with chronic retention

When the bladder is not completely able to empty, the leakage of small frequent amounts of urine occurs as a result. Some signs that your incontinence might be related to chronic retention are: frequent UTIs, straining to pass wee, a weak or slow urine stream, and the feeling as though you can't quite empty your bladder.

Chronic retention incontinence can be caused by a number of things including urethra blockages, prolapse, and some medications.

Where to get help

Now, I promised you that urinary incontinence was common but not normal, and that there was help available, right?! So here come the resources:

Start by speaking to a pelvic health physiotherapist (Physical therapist in the states) and establishing what kind of leak you're leaking.  The road to recovery might be physical therapy (like doing your pelvic floor exercises), toileting habits work, work on your diet, and perhaps even mechanical intervention (There are little pessaries that physiotherapists can fit that support your bladder)

The key here is actually reaching out and getting help. Because you DON'T have to live with this as being normal. Prevention is better than cure, so address this now. You're worth it!

Changing How You Train - This one's for the Personal Trainers

I've heard it over and over "Wear a pad" or "Crossfit women pee when they lift" or "It's normal to pee when you run"

And it annoys me immensely.

Firstly, to the trainers out there, STOP NORMALISING THIS STUFF. If you're telling women to expect to pee when they work out you're part of the problem and you need to stop. You really do.

I've heard it over and over "Wear a pad" or "Crossfit women pee when they lift" or "It's normal to pee when you run"

The general advice from Pelvic Floor First for trainers is:

  • Avoid prescribing high impact or high intensity exercises that place downward pressure on your client's pelvic floor, and
  • instruct them to monitor their pelvic floor whilst exercising, to make sure it isn't dropping or pushing down.

However each client is an individual, and should be encouraged to become aware of their body, their limits, and what keeps them comfortable.  There is no one exercise that is "Pelvic Floor Safe" because frankly, everyone is different, and the ideal solution would be to build women up with functional pelvic floors who can enjoy exercise and not worry about leaking, or damaging their pelvic floor as they workout.

If You're A Client of a Personal Trainer

You have the right to say "NO" to an exercise that you feel is making you hurt, leak, or worse.

Your personal trainer has a moral obligation to train you in a way that keeps you healthy and safe - if they're not fulfilling that obligation, then you're entitled to look after yourself and cease training with them.

In short, you can totally work hard, sweat, lift heavy stuff, put it back down, dance, run, and enjoy life to it's fullest - but that shouldn't include pee, at least not without your conscious input.

You deserve to have a functional, competent, leak proof pelvic floor.

 

Chloe Pedley
Founder at Polkadotsi
Chloe is the founder of Polkadotsi, mother of four little boys, and wife and lover to a magnificent husband.
She's interested in all things sex and sexuality, and seeks to make a positive difference in the world by education.

Chloe is the founder of Polkadotsi, mother of four little boys, and wife and lover to a magnificent husband. She's interested in all things sex and sexuality, and seeks to make a positive difference in the world by education.

Leave a Reply