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Did you happen to catch the viral CrossFit video where athlete Rory McKernan went around the Central East Regional asking women if they pee during workouts? Check it out here. Well, he might have brought it out publicly and suddenly, but now that it’s out in the open, let’s talk it out.
So what exactly is going on, ladies? Why do our lady parts involuntarily leak when we’re working out — or laughing or coughing for that matter — and what can we do to stop the flood gates?
The formal name for this phenomenon is called “exercise-induced urinary incontinence” and it’s a common occurrence among women. Whether you’re an athlete, new mother or a hearty laughter, chances are you lightly tinkle once in a while.
Stop the Leakage
Your pelvic floor muscles — which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum (they pretty much hold those organs in place!) — can become weakened by pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging and being overweight. Tighten those muscles up and you may be able to control the urge to pee during a workout.
Disclaimer: Before taking matters into your own hands, talk to your doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions, like pelvic organ prolapse (see below). Gynecologists who practice the sub-specialty of urology are called urogynecologists. Urogynecology involves the diagnosis and treatment of urinary incontinence and female pelvic floor disorders.
The MayoClinic offers these kegal exercise pointers:
- Find the right muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles.
- Perfect your technique. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and lie on your back. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
Repeat three times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.
Guess what? Kegal exercises are also beneficial to men. Besides urinary incontinence, they are great for men’s sexual health. Kegals can help with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Dear Kate makes leak-resistant underwear for women — perfect for minor exercise accidents. Their patent-pending fabric combination of wicking and leak-resistant layers guards against embarrassing leaks at the gym. Not only are they practical with moisture-wicking, breathable fabric, but they look good too.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
According to the American Urogynecologic Society, pelvic organ prolapse is a medical condition that occurs when the normal support of the vagina is lost, resulting in “sagging” or dropping of the bladder, urethra, cervix and rectum. As the prolapse of the vagina and uterus progresses, women can feel bulging tissue protruding through the opening of the vagina. It’s important to talk to your doctor to see if your leakage is more than just incontinence. Click here to learn more.