A common thought is that incontinence, or occasional urine leakage , is a normal part of aging. Although it is true that the prevalence of incontinence increases with age, it is not considered normal to leak urine at any point in our lives.
It is important that we recognize incontinence as a symptom and not as a disease. It is a symptom of bladder and/or pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. There are many risk factors associated with this dysfunction including a history of smoking, pregnancy and childbirth, pelvic surgery, obesity, chronic cough, repetitive heavy lifting, neurogenic disease, hormone changes and more.
Certainly as we age, we may recognize one or more of these risk factors in our own personal history that will put us at higher risk to experience incontinence symptoms.
Also with age, we all experience a gradual loss of muscle tissue throughout our body. This is a natural process that occurs with age along with a decline in our cardiovascular and respiratory systems and a decline in our bone density as other examples of this natural process. As we age, we will all experience a loss of muscle strength and endurance throughout our bodies including our pelvic floor muscles.
It is important to recognize that we can slow the loss of muscle tissue with appropriate strengthening exercises for our pelvic floor and surrounding muscles of our pelvis and abdomen. Working strength and endurance of our muscles as well as recognizing postural changes that may be taking place as we age are important steps to keeping our pelvic floor muscles working efficiently and effectively.