WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Spend just a few minutes with 55-year-old Jean Ann Hudspeth and the first thing you notice is her warm and infectious laugh, but for more than three decades, she had to seriously be on guard whenever she laughed like that.
“You just don’t want to let it happen,” she smiled as she remembers keeping her “secret” from everyone but her girlfriends. “You always have to be cautious, know if you have pads, maybe even a change of clothes.”
Hudspeth had what’s called a weak pelvic floor ever since she was in her 20s. When she’d laugh or cough or jump, chances are she’d leak a little urine. Her medical issue is not at all uncommon. One in three women over the age of 45 have urinary incontinence.
“People just accept it and think it’s a natural part of aging, but it’s not,” said Dr. Doug Miyazaki of Novant Health’s new Carolinas Pelvic Health Center in Winston-Salem, a one stop shop for everything having to do with pelvic health. “Having children, obesity, digestive issues and menopause can all contribute to it, but with physical therapy or surgery, people don’t have to suffer from this.”
Dr. Miyazaki recommends women start with Kegal exercises every day, during a regular activity such as driving and while at a stoplight or while watching television and commercials come on. Kegals are when you squeeze the muscles in your vaginal area, as if you were stopping the flow of urine. Kegals help strengthen the muscles beneath your bladder.
If Kegals don’t help after a few weeks, Dr. Miyazaki says to call your doctor. Hudspeth had a Minarc surgery last year, after having dealt with the issue for over 30 years.
“It’s completely life changing for me, just a huge difference for me,” said Hudspeth. “Before, I always had to be cautious, now I can go to the gym, do squats, jump, I could never jump before. I have no bladder leakage now at all.”