Incontinence can be hard to talk about. Even when there’s a clear cause, like childbirth, not everyone feels comfortable asking others about it, or getting help. Marlee Dachel, a doctor of physical therapy, recalls a statistic from her training: on average, it takes men about two weeks before they talk to their doctor about incontinence. For women, the average is about seven years.
Yet, as Dr. Dachel points out, “[Urinary incontinence is] most common in women who have given birth at some point in their life. And … as soon as you have a child, you’re postpartum for the rest of your life. It doesn't matter if it's been two days or 60 years.” So no matter how long it’s been since you had your baby, incontinence can still show up.
Because of how common postpartum urinary incontinence is, our conversation with Dr. Dachel on the For Health’s sake podcast put a lot of focus on understanding why it happens and how to treat it. We covered topics like:
- What urge incontinence is versus stress or mixed incontinence
- How pregnancy and different methods of childbirth contribute to incontinence
- How to properly perform Kegels
- How to retrain your bladder
- The relationship between diet and incontinence
Get the help you need
Urinary incontinence isn’t permanent – it’s just a condition. And like other conditions, it can be treated. Dr. Dachel notes that even conservative treatment – exercises, diet and behavioral changes – can have a big impact. Talk to your primary care doctor about your symptoms. They can make treatment recommendations and refer you to a specialist if necessary.