The Three Stages of Incontinence
Three Stages of incontinence:
When I started to experience stress (exercise-induced) incontinence, I was ignorant. I did not understand what was happening to me. Acknowledging the problem meant that I had to openly admit to someone exactly what was happening to me.
Recently this article in Kidspot featuring Magdalena, a Sydney based Personal Trainer, wrote:
“For months, I suffered from incontinence, but because I only leaked during high-intensity exercises, like running and jumping (I was fine during pump classes and when I was lifting weights), I thought that it was normal, as I had a baby.”
With over a decade of listening to women’s stories in my studio, the words “Oh I just thought that is what I should expect, because I have had a baby” … is more common than I wish it was. I heard it just yesterday from a Fitness Professional who also has significant pelvic floor dysfunction.
We choose to remain ignorant, or move to the second phase of incontinence…
Once we understand that incontinence (this is the same for birth injuries, prolapse, pelvic and sexual pain) are not normal and acknowledge what is going on… we are ripe to hear information that will significantly improve our lives.
Unfortunately this information is not always automatically forthcoming in the places in which we leak – bootcamp, gymnasiums or Cross Fit studios… and the like. So for many women … they are left with Google. Acknowledgement of the problem often goes hand in hand with shame that their body is leaking urine or faecal material.
Clementine Ford who is outspoken on many topics, spoke about the shame of owning up to her own incontinence post birth:
“For most of this time, I was too embarrassed to speak out about it. It was only after meeting my trainer, Michelle (Mish), that I realised how common these kinds of problems are.”
Read the full article here
I found this beautiful quote on Haley Shevener’s Facebook page – see below – (amongst other beautiful and inspiring words) regarding shame:
“If we shift the conversation and replace the “m” in shame to “r” and SHARE, would we see a shift in the way we perceive our bodies? Would our quality of life improve? Would we seek more intimacy with ourselves, with our partners? Would we blame ourselves less and experience less fear and fewer feelings of isolation?
I think so.”
At this vital stage you have the ability to change the course of your health.
Ideally you will be (put) in contact with Professionals who can help by specifically diagnosing the why and supporting you in returning to the things that you love.
I saw this on Facebook, and it gladdened my heart.
When I moved into the acknowledgement phase of my incontinence, I was told that I needed to stop exercising in the way in which I loved. This caused me as much stress as the incontinence. Exercising was my life-line.
However, I am excited that a growing number of Women’s Health Physiotherapists and continence specialists are now actively promoting the role of exercise and working with their local fitness professionals. Your exercise may need to be modified and new fitness options explored, but keeping women active has to remain the number 1 priority to realise both the physical and mental health benefits.
At this stage, some people move to the third stage of Incontinence…
… and there might be a significant period of time in between each stage.
Some may use their public forum to draw attention to the issue, and some may just counsel other women who they know personally or online, in private conversation. These are both important forms of advocacy.
But silence does not serve us.
Silence around incontinence, silence around birth injuries, sexual and pelvic pain and silence around prolapse hurt us all.
All of these things are common for women… but they certainly don’t have to be norm.
Check out some of the amazing warrior advocates that I am honoured to know:
Haley Shevener is based in San Francisco and has been incredibly open about her prolapse journey and how she has used exercise and education to remain active and inspire other women. She remains a passionate Fitness Professional and master trainer with kettle bells.
Every post on her Facebook page makes me love her just a little bit more.
I am ridiculously excited to meet her at this year’s Women’s Health and Fitness Summit, where she will be taking a practical session using her female-specific approach to using kettle bells.
I do believe that this is a world first!
Kylianne is our WHFS Ambassador and will also be at this years’ WHFS!
Amy Dawes has used her birth trauma experience to create a Not For Profit – ABTA (Australian Birth Trauma Association). Click here to read her story.
If commitments allow, Amy will be joining us at this year’s WHFS!
Magdalena and her Women’s Health Physiotherapist – Heba Shaheed – the Pelvic Expert – have a special relationship and attended the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit together as Professionals.
Marina (on left) & Jenni van den Berg
I asked Jenni to talk about what she is doing right now as an advocate. This is what she said:
“Along the way I have learnt that we cannot control the trauma that happens in life, but we can unpack the package of hope left behind in its wake. For me the contents of the package is about building awareness of pelvic health in group fitness and doing our bit to help make pelvic floor dysfunction ancient history.
I’m forever grateful that Marina was there in the rain, that you have listened to my plea for change and now that we get to build this rainbow together. As I believe together, we can build a rainbow to rise above the taboo to empower more women the opportunity to move their bodies and receive all the amazing benefits of exercise.”
I wrote about Jenni here in this article “When Fit Pro’s Prolapse”
Jenni has been working behind the scenes creating significant change in both her work place and with other training organisations by providing supplementary education around pelvic floor. She also has created a special Facebook group for Fitness Professionals with an interest in pelvic and women’s health.
Why not join a whole lot of warrior women at this year’s
“You don’t have to have experienced pelvic floor dysfunction to have empathy and provide appropriate care for the women you work with… but you do have to have awareness of the issues and the connections on where to go next.”
See you there!
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