One of the most common, but rarely discussed issues that female athletes face is urinary incontinence during exercise. One study estimates that leaking of urine occurs in 47% of exercising women (average age was 38 years in this study). Many attribute this problem due to pregnancy and childbirth; however, studies have shown that 25-28% of high school and collegiate athletes who have never been pregnant report stress urinary incontinence. These numbers are even higher in sports that significantly increase the intra-pelvic pressure like gymnastics and trampoline where 60-80% of athletes report incontinence!
What’s the Cause of Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)?
In most cases, SUI is caused by a dysfunctional pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is made up of muscles, connective tissue and sphincters. These three types of structures have three main functions: 1) stabilize the spine and the pelvis, 2) support the pelvic organs, and 3) control the retention and release of urine and stool.
One reason the pelvic floor can become dysfunctional is that the muscles and connective tissues become stretched or weak during or after pregnancy. However, they can also become too tight or “stay on” too much of the time, so that they can’t contract quickly or strong enough during high-impact activities, like in running, lifting, or jumping rope. Incontinence is just one way of identifying a pelvic floor insufficiency. It is a signal that an imbalance in the deep core system exists. The deep core is a closed pressure system, an insufficiency in any component will impact the capacity of the whole. With all the talk of the athletes core strength…this hidden issue among female athletes must be considered.
Stress urinary incontinence is not only embarrassing for women, but many either stop exercising altogether or stop doing sports/activities that they love to avoid this problem. In addition, pelvic floor dysfunction can also lead to pain – during intercourse or at rest, so this problem can negatively impact many areas of women’s lives.
Fem Touch is a noninvasive treatment we offer. It is manufactured by Lumenis, the gold standard in fractional CO2 laser resurfacing. This FDA approved vaginal CO2 laser resurfacing improves vaginal health by thickening the wall and increasing blood supply by stimulating the body’s regenerative processes to tighten, increase lubrication, and decrease stress urinary incontinence. This has a direct effect on the integrity and elasticity of the vaginal tissue and increases the acidity of the vagina to more normal levels. By restoring a healthy and youthful vaginal environment, many symptoms of vaginal atrophy (or aging) simply disappear.