After giving birth, nearly half of women suffer incontinence due to the stretching of ligaments and muscles in their pelvic floors. For a majority of affected moms, these symptoms subside after three to six months, but others experience leakage and weakness of pelvic muscles even after six months, with about 10 to 20 percent requiring medical help. Yet, many don’t know how common the problem is, and have a hard time asking for help.
Dr. Gazala Siddiqui sees more than a thousand patients a year for this condition in her position as an Urogynecologist at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, affiliated with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. She notes certain factors can increase the likelihood of post-partum incontinence.
Fortunately, Dr. Siddiqui says moms experiencing mild incontinence can decrease its effects with a few do’s and don’ts.
Did you know? For moms experiencing mild incontinence, limiting the weight lifted from the floor to 20 or fewer pounds may help decrease its effects.
If the incontinence continues, there are three categories of treatment available.
Kegels are great for decreasing leakage, but tricky to master. Dr. Siddiqui frequently refers her patients to “pelvic floor trainers” who, similarly to physical therapists, can teach you the right way to exercise and measure your progress over several months.
Patients who don’t see improvement after pelvic muscle training may consider using a pessary — a plastic device that supports the urethra. Pessaries can be worn throughout the day or during specific activities to prevent urinary leaking.
Surgical intervention for post-partum incontinence is a minimally invasive procedure. It’s a good option for moms who don’t plan further pregnancies.
Dr. Siddiqui advises women to seek medical advice as soon as incontinence affects their quality of life. She says many of her patients have only one regret: that they didn’t begin treatment earlier to experience.
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