From Incontinence to Confidence: How To Get Rid of Your Vaginaphobia
| By Dr. Susie Gronski |
Nothing can freak you out more than peeing all over yourself. I’m not just saying this because I’m a pelvic health specialist. I know first hand what it’s like to be utterly embarrassed when your plumbing doesn’t work as it should.I was 26 years old enjoying a warm summer afternoon with my godson David, jumping on the trampoline; we had a competition going on: who could make the other bounce higher in the air. Halfway through my attempt to launch David in the air, I felt a warm, unusual wetness trickle between my thighs. I paused for a second wondering if it was just sweat, but as I looked down at my pants, I was horrified. I quickly ran to the bathroom, ignoring the little cries, “Aunt Susie, we’re still playing!”
I went to the bathroom and dropped my pants. It wasn’t sweat; it was urine! I had pissed myself. I just couldn’t believe it. That was the first time I paid any attention to my private parts; what an introduction it was! Did this mean I’d never be able to jump, run, or exercise without having to worry if I would pee all over myself?
Luckily, fate gave me an opportunity to learn and explore all the complexities of the nether region that led me to become the “physiotherapist for your privates.” Using all the knowledge I learned, I treated myself because I’ll be damned if I’ll let the trampoline beat me. Building up that confidence required lots of practice and physical and emotional support. Then one day I made up my mind. I mustered up the courage to conquer that trampoline, and I did, with a huge smile on my face. The only fluid trickling on my body this time was sweat.
I’m empowering you to take ownership of your sexual health and function.
Incontinence disables you by stripping away your confidence, femininity, sexuality, and overall quality of life. Let’s face it, worrying if you smell like urine doesn’t exactly make you feel sexy. When you don’t trust your own body, your self-esteem suffers. Decision-making, being assertive, and taking action all become difficult. For some, it can reach the point of avoiding socializing with friends. The embarrassment of wetting yourself is just too much to handle.
Urinary incontinence can wreak havoc on your sex life both emotionally and physically. You might start avoiding intimacy worrying that your partner will notice “the smell” or even worse, you might leak during sex! It’s common for women with urinary incontinence to report lower sexual satisfaction and overall lower quality of life.
Intimacy takes many forms and is a vital, physiological function. Feeling safe to explore your body and experience pleasure, without judgment, is just as important as making sure you stay “heart healthy.” When you aren’t satisfied with your quality of life, it makes it hard to be optimistic and happy, affecting how you breathe, eat, sleep, and interact with the world around you. Did I hit the nail on the head? With millions of women suffering from incontinence, I’m pretty confident that my story will resonate with you.
So what’s a woman to do?
Let’s start by acknowledging that there’s an issue “down there” instead of masking it with pads, tampons, fancy vagina gadgets or excessive hygiene rituals. Don’t be shy to talk about your private parts. Over half of women experience some form of incontinence in their lifetime; believe it or not, this even includes elite athletes.
Stop making excuses. Having a kid doesn’t mean you should leak. It may be common to have incontinence after giving birth, but it’s definitely not normal. I’m including the “I’m just getting older, so it’s normal” excuse in here too, ladies. Get to know your plumbing. Education is power and the key to overcoming any challenge. The more you learn about how your lady parts work, the more confident you’ll be handling those embarrassing situations.
Don’t kegel yourself to death. Some women want to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles to the nth degree, thinking it will make their vagina tighter and leak less. Pelvic floor muscles work in two ways: they can be loosey-goosey, or they can be too tight, in which case kegels are not the answer. Both situations impact the normal function of pelvic floor muscles. It’s always best to have a professional pelvic health specialist assess your pelvic floor before starting any exercise regimen; this will optimize your health and set you up for success.
Ditch the pads. Blood and urine are two different fluids. A menstrual pantyliner is meant to absorb blood, not urine. When you wear one for leaks, the urine isn’t absorbed into the liner, leaving bacteria on the surface of the pad that predisposes you to urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginal infections. Not to mention it’s just plain old irritating to the urethra and can cause you to leak even more. No fun!
Go from Incontinent to Confident
So are you ready to take on the world without worrying about your bodily fluids? I challenge you to explore your sexy parts so you too can stand up, conquer your trampoline, and say, “I’ll be damned if I let this beat me.”
Dr. Susie Gronski is a licensed doctor of physical therapy and a certified pelvic rehabilitation practitioner. Simply put, she’s the doctor for ‘everything down there.’ Her passion is to make you feel comfortable about taboo subjects like sex and private parts. She is the creator of a unique hands-on training program helping men and women with pelvic pain become experts in treating themselves. Connect with her by visiting www.drsusieg.com or call (828) 545-2996.