By Wanda McConnell
At least once a week, Kelli Berzuk hears a woman
say she laughed so hard she peed her pants.
"And then they turn to me and say: 'that's normal, right?'"
The answer, says Berzuk, is "no. And I have a big concern
that women accept it as a normal part of aging or a
consequence of childbirth."
It's one reason why, after eight years as a physiotherapist
specializing in incontinence and pelvic pain, Berzuk has
written a book on the subject.
It's aptly titled I Laughed So Hard I Peed My Pants! A
Woman's Essential Guide for Improved Bladder Control.
Naming the book was one of the hardest decisions for the
"I asked all of my friends to rate the title because I was
worried it would offend someone, but 100 percent of them liked
it," says Berzuk, 35.
The book explains the causes of incontinence and what women
can do to prevent or reduce it.
"Small changes to diet and exercise can make significant
improvements for most women," says Berzuk, who works in the
Incontinence and Pelvic Pain Clinic, a division of the Nova
Physiotherapy and Sports Fitness Clinic located in the Medical
Female incontinence is far from rare. The Mayo Clinic
estimates that 50 per cent of women in the U.S. will
experience the condition some time in their lives.
It frequently becomes a problem during pregnancy or after
delivery, and following menopause.
What's surprising, says Berzuk, is that it is also common
among young, athletic women who have never been pregnant. In
one study, 28 per cent of 144 young female athletes involved
in high impact sports suffered from incontinence.
"Those statistics shocked me, too," says Berzuk. "Bladder
control is really important to self-esteem, especially at that
age. Your bladder shouldn't cause such problems."
Berzuk says she wrote the book to explain as fully as
possible how to do exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
muscles that control the bladder.
"It's really important that they do the exercises correctly
because if they don't they could damage the muscle further and
increase their symptoms."
Berzuk, a busy mom who lives in Birds Hill with her husband
and two young children, knows women might cringe at the
thought of trying to find time to do the exercises. However,
these are exercises that, once learned, can be done while
doing other activities, she says.
"I do mine while I'm flossing my teeth," she says laughing.
They can be done while talking on the phone, stopped at a red
light, or watching television.
The important thing, Berzuk says, is that they be done
"I would be trying to explain them over the phone to a
patient and it was really hard. That's when I started thinking
about doing the book," she says, adding that because it's a
hidden condition, there are not a lot of books available on
the subject. Berzuk says wearing a pad is appropriate I
certain situations, but that it's "a license to leak." It's
not he answer. You have to work at the solution."
I Laughed So Hard I Peed My Pants is available at
Chapters, Coles, and McNally Robinson Booksellers. It's also
available through: www.ilaughedsohard.com