I just got a review copy of The Bathroom Key, written by Kim Perelli and Kathryn Kassai, a doctor/patient team. Great book, and one that could probably help millions of women. It reminded me of my own experiences. (And made me wonder why I didn’t co-write something like this years ago!)
I’ve been a freelance writer for about a dozen years and have written for pretty much every women’s magazine out there. Before kids, I used to write a lot for Marie Claire. I pitched every one of my stories — that is, I came up with the idea, wrote it up, and it was approved and assigned by the editors. One of the ideas came about after a friend had her first baby. Afterward, she confided, she was having problems. Any time she laughed, coughed, or ran, she leaked urine. I did research for her and realized that her pelvic floor muscles were probably stretched out or damaged from pushing for more than three hours. It was a story, I decided, and I pitched it to my Marie Claire editor. Here’s an excerpt from the letter (yes, an actual snail mail letter since my editor wanted to see clips, too) I wrote:
Thank you for taking a look at my pitch on vaginal strength and gynecological physical therapy, which I sent to you today via e-mail. As I mentioned in my e-mailed pitch, the researchers I’ve spoken to such as Dr. Lauri Romanzi, a uro-gynecologist at Cornell University-New York Presbyterian Hospital say American women are missing out because few know that their vaginal problems can be solved using directed Kegels, biofeedback, and other physical therapy methodologies. This leads to needless suffering just because doctors and most media outlets are squeamish about the topic. I’d love to be the one that breaks down these barriers and helps let Marie Claire readers in on the secret.
Completely crappy letter, but hey, I was just a wet-behind-the-ears kid. But I digress as usual. The story was assigned, but not exactly in the way I envisioned. The title of my story morphed from “Get a Stronger Pelvic Floor,” to “Best Orgasm Ever!” You can read it here. There’s still advice and info that stands the test of time. The testers were two of my karate pals and me, of course. And I got to go into Dr. Glazer’s New York City office, get uro-dynamic testing, and take home a vaginal biofeedback machine. It was fairly awesome. (I remember being very offended that I was “strong” but lacked “endurance.” In layman terms, my pelvic floor muscles were strong, but got tired quickly.)
Anyway, fast forward a half a dozen years and I was pregnant with my second child — you know, after my first child that weighed in at 8 pounds, 5 ounces at birth and who has a giant head. I got the flu. Twice. I had HUGE issues. Every time I coughed, I leaked. (Sorry for that TMI.) I blogged about it. Anyone who is having similar issues should definitely read that post, Whiz Bang, You’re Wet (Or How Not to Pee Your Pants).
As my story and the book, The Bathroom Key, show, there are millions of women suffering with urinary incontinence but they don’t have to be. There are treatments and exercises and help available. You just have to be willing to talk about a problem that could seem a little embarrassing. In this case I think we as women need to take a page from men. They are more than willing to go into their doctors’ offices and tell them about weak urine streams and erectile dysfunction. Why should we be afraid of talking about a little leaky urine?
Have you ever had a problem with bladder incontinence or any other pelvic floor issues? Did you seek help? How did that go for you? I’d like to know.