Many times, having children can increase your risk for experiencing incontinence (any involuntary loss of urine-even just a dribble). This does not make it normal and this does not mean there is nothing you can do about it-period. But what about those that experience incontinence who haven’t had children? Most of the time when we think about incontinence, we automatically assume that those who suffer are “old” or that they’ve had children. Unfortunately, there are so many women who are younger and have never had children that experience incontinence. Some of the risk factors include athletics, high BMI, overall decrease in deep lower core facilitation, early-onset puberty, etc. Personally, the youngest client I’ve treated with incontinence was in early adolescence (age 11-14). WHAT?!
Approximately 10% to 40% of nulliparous women (women who have not had children) in Sweden reported having urinary incontinence.1 UP TO 40%. What this means is, as healthcare professionals, we need to be asking about this with every single female that we encounter, regardless of age. And as mothers, sisters, friends and daughters we need to be a source of support. I’m 31 and I’ve never actually been asked by ANY healthcare provider if I was ever incontinent. This is a problem. No wonder why women wait, on average, 6.5 YEARS before they seek professional help when they’re incontinent.2 We’re taught from a very young age that this is something we just don’t talk about. The problem isn’t getting better with this mindset, it’s getting much worse. In my professional opinion, every single girl going through a yearly physical should be asked about this, every single year.
Imagine being in high school and leaking during your cross country races. Imagine getting ready for a college soccer game and using toilet paper to line your underwear so if you leak during the game you have “protection”. Imagine being at your friend’s house, you’re 13, and you can’t jump on the trampoline with everyone for fear that you’ll pee your pants. And then couple that with keeping it to yourself because it’s embarrassing, and you feel like you have no one to talk to, and no one will understand. I hope that we get to a point where young girls no longer must “just deal” with this on their own. It’s unacceptable to allow it to keep happening.
There are so many reasons that young girls might experience incontinence and without a professional assessment, you won’t know what the actual cause is. And you cannot begin to improve symptoms if you do not have a full evaluation first. If you need, or want, more information about this, you know how to find me! We need to start creating a space for our girls to be open about this topic to those they trust. It starts with simple conversation. They desperately need healthcare professionals to ask the questions, and they desperately need the women in their lives whom they trust to provide a safe place to share.