If you never had any issues with leaking pee after having kids, you might be alarmed and stressed to discover that you’ve started leaking later in life (in your 40s or 50s). You might think to yourself: “Shoot. If this is happening to me now — what will happen to me five, ten, or fifteen years down the road?”
Fortunately, there is a simple answer to why you’re leaking now when you’ve never leaked before — ligament laxity. In this post, we’ll dive into some of the common reasons for ligament laxity and some solutions to support your body and pelvic floor to eliminate leaking.
What Causes Ligament Laxity?
If you’re dealing with leaking between the ages of 40–50, there is a good chance that ligament laxity is to blame. These are some common causes of ligament laxity at this time of life:
As many women enter the “midlife” stage, they realize that they have more time for physical activity than they did during the peak of their childrearing and working years. Many women begin hiking, working out, or trying new things that their body has never done before, which can often lead to ligament laxity, and, you guessed it — leaking.
The average age at which women experience menopause is around 50. However, perimenopause — the stage before menopause — can start up to ten years before menopause begins. This means there is a good chance you’ll start experiencing perimenopause symptoms at some point in your 40s.
As your estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, you might notice vaginal dryness and a loss in “elasticity” and “pliability” in the connective tissues down there. These hormone changes can cause ligament laxity in the pelvic floor, which is what causes leaking. This is why you may begin to experience leaking at this point (even with no leaking earlier in life).
I’m Leaking — What Should I Do Now?
Before jumping into what you should do if you begin leaking urine in your 40s or 50s, here’s what you shouldn’t do:
- Clenching —If you’re leaking, what’s your first reaction when (or before) you cough, sneeze, or laugh? Chances are, you tightly clench your pelvic floor or cross your legs in an attempt to “guard” the pee from coming out. Believe it or not, this can actually make the leaking issue way worse!
- Avoidance — If you experience leaking while running, jumping rope, or going to the trampoline park with your kids, there’s a good chance you avoid these activities at all costs. But you shouldn’t have to live with these limitations. You can do all the things you love and maintain bladder control.
Instead of clenching or avoiding the activities that trigger your leaking, try the following instead:
Sometimes, the best way to limit leaking is to be mindful of why you might be leaking. For example, if you’re still ovulating, you might notice increased ligament laxity around ovulation from hormonal changes. During these couple of days, when you’re working out, you might need to be more intentional about relaxing, breathing, and engaging the pelvic floor.
It’s crucial to remember leaking is not because you’re suddenly weak or tight. Hormones are just causing your ligaments to become looser and more relaxed, so you might need to be more intentional during workouts and other physical activity.
One of the ways to be more mindful during physical activity while leaking is deep breathing. Take a “filling” and “emptying” breath — where your belly inhales like a balloon when you inhale and then returns to a normal size when you exhale — to engage the pelvic floor completely.
This simple breathing exercise can help to eliminate leaking. Just be sure to practice it regularly and often for the best results.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
If you’re still unable to manage your leaking, or leaking is keeping you from doing the things you love — come to see a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Pelvic floor physical therapists can work with you to regain complete bladder control, so you can ditch the panty liner (or thick pad) and not worry about leaking (and being embarrassed about it) ever again.
Don’t Give Up a Life You Love Because of Leaking — Come to Moment of Truth Physical Therapy!
If you love a particular activity — like running or CrossFit — that you would be devastated to give up because of leaking, please see us at Moment of Truth Physical Therapy in Peoria, Arizona. It doesn’t have to be one or the other!
Again, your only options to cure leaking are not giving up an activity you love or leaking forever and being embarrassed about it. We can help you regain bladder control (and confidence!) with pelvic floor physical therapy. Contact us to schedule a free discovery session today!