Friday, August 24, 2012

Urinary Fairy

So has anyone else seen these commercials for the Poise pads featuring Kirstie Alley? She appears in the bathroom at a party after a woman starts laughing and has an "oops!" moment. The Poise fairy talks about how 1 in 3 women have light bladder leakage or "LBL" and with all her fairy wisdom, gives you a solution to your problems....pads.     

Well, the truth is that "LBL" is a term that the marketing industry came up with that sounds better than the medical term for the same condition, which is....urinary incontinence. In this case, stress urinary incontinence. So call it what you will, LBL or SUI, these are the names for the condition where you are losing urine without meaning to during physical activity, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise.

While I agree with the Poise fairy that having the right pad can be important when you have urinary leakage, I want to let you in on a little secret...there is another more important fairy out there who you need to be talking to! The Urinary Fairy! 

Okay, so that may not be the technical term for a pelvic floor physical therapist, but potato, potato. A pelvic floor physical therapist can do the most magical thing of all! They can help you to get rid of the problem!
With SUI, the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder and urethra, are weak and not able to prevent urine from flowing when pressure is placed on the abdomen, like when you laugh or take a Zumba class or pick up your child. Risk factors for SUI include:
  • Being female
  • Childbirth
  • Getting older
  • Obesity
So what can a Urinary Fairy do for you? Physical therapy for this particular issue involves strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles by doing pelvic floor exercises. Some people have been told by their doctors that they need to do Kegels, which are pelvic floor exercises named after the doctor who came up with them. Some of my patients come in and say that they tried Kegels and they didn't work, but I compare that to someone telling you that you should go to the gym and exercise versus having a personal trainer. A pelvic floor physical therapist can examine you to determine if you are doing a pelvic floor muscle contraction correctly and if not, instruct you in how to do so. I like to tell my patients that I have Kegels on steroids...a whole arsenal of pelvic floor exercises to get your muscles in tip-top shape, to stop you from having those "oops!" moments. Patients typically see a significant decrease in their urinary leakage in 8 to 12 weeks. So wouldn't you rather talk to a Urinary Fairy and get rid of the pads once and for all?

P.S. Check out this video from my fellow urinary fairy about how to do a pelvic floor contraction properly!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

So, just what is your pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles whose job it is to aid in urinary and bowel continence and to support the contents of your pelvis, such as the bladder and uterus. Most people are unaware that they even have these muscles because they function pretty much independently, doing their job without you having to think about it. It is when something starts to go wrong with the pelvic floor muscles that people find out that they have them and they are not functioning properly.
In its simplest form, pelvic floor dysfunction – aka, when something goes wrong- can usually be broken down into two categories.
1: pelvic floor muscle weakness
2: pelvic floor muscle tension.
With weakness, typically this will show up as incontinence or leakage of urine or bowels.  
Tension of pelvic floor muscles may present as constipation, pain with sitting, tailbone pain or pain with intercourse.

Pelvic floor dysfunction is kind of an umbrella term that covers many diagnoses.  If you have issues with your pelvic floor, talk to your doctor about physical therapy as an option for treatment. 
 To find a physical therapist near you who specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction, please refer to the following websites:
American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Section on Women’s Health:
Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute

Come back next week when I will be diving in to more specific diagnoses related to the pelvic floor!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I'm Cody McNeely, PT, DPT. I specialize in physical therapy for pelvic floor dysfunction. I work in Austin, TX as a therapist at Sullivan Physical Therapy, a clinic specializing in pelvic floor dysfunction. I graduated with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2010 from the University of Kentucky. I love my job and I find it very rewarding to be able to help people who are having issues with some of the most basic functions in life, such as urination, bowel movements and sexual intercourse. I've seen how difficulties in these areas can negatively affect a person's life and I like that I can help change that. My blog is an opportunity for me to reach out and help others beyond the patients in my practice and I hope that the information you find here helps you. My hope is that I can share my knowledge and experience in an informative and fun way. A few times a month I will be posting new information, my thoughts and observations about pelvic floor conditions and technology that can benefit those dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction.