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Don’t believe the marketing: you don’t have to accept a leaking bladder as just part of the aftermath of pregnancy. 

Rebecca Rinko, a urogynecologist with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, said one in three women will leak urine when coughing, laughing or sneezing – but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. 

Rinko’s starting point for her patients is good bladder health, which can be practiced at any age. Nutrition is an important part of that discussion, including avoiding bladder irritants.

“The most common are caffeine, artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages, alcohol and citrus,” she said. “They can often cause women to feel that their bladder is full when it’s not and can even cause bladder spasms at times.”

Rinko often recommends, especially to younger patients, seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist. 

“It’s an up and coming field that is much needed,” she said. “At St. Francis, we are super lucky and have seven physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor physical therapy. My patients love not only the women that do it, but they learn a lot from the therapy.”

Rinko said pelvic floor physical therapy could benefit everybody, but it certainly can have long term benefits after pregnancy. 

“Carrying a child, even if you’ve had a C-section, can be traumatic or loadbearing on the pelvis,” she said. “Urinary incontinence is extremely common in women, especially as we get older. It’s something nobody likes to talk about, which is a shame. What I would love women to know is that although common, it’s not normal, and there are options for treatment.”

In addition to physical therapy, Rinko said there are non-invasive treatments and surgical procedures available to help. First, it is important to determine the cause.

“It’s also important to know that while the symptom is the same, there are many different reasons why women leak urine,” she said. “The biggest takeaway is that it is common. They are not alone. Women should feel comfortable talking with their primary care provider. Our goal is to get women back to doing the things they want to do. It’s about quality of life.”

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