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Preventable Measures Women Can Take In Their 20s To Help Prevent SUI

Health advice varies by age and gender. Young girls learn about the changes that happen during puberty, for instance, and women in their late teens are taught breast self-exams. 

If you’re a woman in her 20s, you’re making a transition from the teen years into mature adulthood, and your health concerns are in transition too. You might seek advice on birth control, preventing sexually transmitted disease, or screening for cervical cancer.

Your pelvic floor is not likely to be among the discussions when it comes to health in your 20s. But it should. Incontinence, or the unintentional leakage of urine, is one of the most common issues for women as they age.

Here’s what you can do in your 20s to prevent pelvic dysfunction like stress urinary incontinence.  

Why Your Pelvic Floor Matters

Your pelvis is not just the bony structure that holds your organs. There are also multiple layers of muscle and tissue—known as the pelvic floor—that are responsible for supporting your pelvic organs such as your bladder, bowel, uterus and vagina. 

The pelvic floor also provides bowel and bladder control, circulation, sexual function, and stability/core strength. This complex area of the body is often overlooked, but it plays a key role in many of your activities every day.1

When those muscles weaken, due to a variety of causes, women may suffer from a pelvic floor disorder. The most common are urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.2 

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is common, estimated to affect up to 35% of adult women.3 SUI is when you leak urine during physical movement or activity—such as coughing, sneezing, or running—which puts pressure on your bladder. SUI occurs when the muscles that support the urethra and control the release of urine are weakened.4

Pelvic floor disorders are more common among older women, meaning you can take steps now to prevent them.

Preventable Measures Women Can Take In Their 20s To Help Prevent SUI

Once you know the importance of your pelvic floor, you can take steps to look after its health. Here are some guidelines.

1. Exercise Your Pelvic Floor

Just like you may do weight training for your muscles and cardio for your heart and lungs, pelvic floor exercises are important to keep your pelvic muscles “fit.” Known commonly as “Kegels,” these exercises involve contracting and releasing the muscles—almost like the feeling of holding in your pee and then releasing it.

A pelvic floor physical therapist or occupational therapist can help you learn how to do the exercises properly. You can also use a tool like the INNOVO Urinary Incontinence Kit. Using Multipath Technology, your pelvic floor is engaged and strengthened, allowing you to perform 180 precise Kegels per session without side effects.

It will help, whether you already have incontinence issues or you’re looking to prevent SUI. Research has proven that pelvic floor exercises help keep pelvic floor muscles “fit,” and can be used in prevention and treatment for women with pelvic disorders like stress urinary incontinence.

There’s a bonus to having a strong pelvic floor—science says you might enjoy sex more! One study found that women with a strong pelvic floor were more likely to report sexual activity than women with weak strength, and they rated higher in scoring on an orgasm scale.5

2. Practice Good Pelvic Health Habits

Some causes of weakened muscles can’t be prevented—pregnancy, childbirth, and weakened muscles of menopause—but there are contributing factors that can be avoided:

  • obesity4
  • smoking, which can cause frequent coughing4
  • high-impact activities, such as running and jumping, over many years4
  • constipation6
  • holding your urine6
  • straining to poop6

3. Talk to Your Doctor About It

Unfortunately, women’s pelvic health is not always discussed. Perhaps primary care doctors and their patients are thinking of other health issues, or women might hesitate to talk about pelvic problems. Once incontinence becomes an issue, women may think it’s just a normal part of aging—it’s not—or feel too embarrassed to bring it up.

After all, it was only a short decade ago that the American boards of obstetrics and gynecology and urology approved a new subspecialty, female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, to train physicians in the field.7

One of the best measures to take in your 20s to help prevent SUI is to discuss your pelvic health with your doctor.  

Find a Doctor Near You

Our Physician Finder will help you locate a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health. You can take the lead on discussions about your pelvic health, to prevent pelvic dysfunction problems like SUI before they even start.

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