I have urinary incontinence, aka holding my pee when I laugh or jump up and down is a problem. Regardless if I’ve peed a few minutes or three hours ago, when someone says something belly-aching funny, I am stuck in a puddle. Growing up, my mother would point to me and laugh, my family members twisted their faces in disgust, and I wallowed in shame.
I have a PhD in preparing to hide the possibility of an accident. I’ll let you in on a few tips, number one: never leave the house without a sweater or scarf, just tie it around your waist and voila, problem solved! Number two: incorporate more skirts into your wardrobe, they dry faster plus clean-up is easy. And number three: black is harder to see … thank you, Calvin Klein.
I thought living with this humiliation was punishment enough for any crime I committed in this life or my last. But I never suspected that the deep pain in my uterus during sex would be connected to my urinary incontinence too. Let me be clear, missionary feels great, doggy style is fun, but cowgirl, faceoff or reverse cowgirl might as well have been a stick verberating my insides. I keeled over in pain and tried my hardest not to wince, letting out a sigh of relief when it was over, or we changed positions. At first, I thought my partner and I may not be a sexual match, no big deal! But partner after partner the piercing pain stayed. Gynaecologists, friends, and of course, Google suggested longer tantric foreplay, organically sourced lubricants, and meditation techniques for being “present.” Nothing helped, so I reserved myself to the thought that certain sex positions would always equal pain. I could live with missionary and doggy style, clitoral stimulations and of course my trusty vibrator collection.
Meanwhile, fed up living preparation to preparation, I logged onto ZocDoc to find a “pelvic floor physical therapist”. My first PT experience was almost as retraumatizing as peeing my pants in front of my 7th-grade crush. After a short introduction, she insisted she couldn’t tell me a word until she examined me. I laid on the examination table with a sarong around my waist and she inserted her fingers inside of me, feeling around without an explanation of what she was looking for. Every few minutes, she commanded me to tighten up as if to stop pee. I couldn’t do it. I squeezed and squeezed, and I couldn’t do it. She let out aggravated, angry sighs, and aggressively asked me “why can’t you do this exercise, it’s the easiest?” After an hour of vaginal humiliation, she explained my muscles were so tight from holding my pee all of these years I had to see her for eight weeks of biweekly massages, and then we could start to retrain my muscles. I asked for at-home exercises, to speed up the process and lessen her hands in my pants, but she insisted my muscles were so tight, this massage was my only hope. I left feeling defeated and violated.
The next day I admitted my lived-nightmare to my therapist, but to my shock, she told me how many of her clients also suffered from urinary incontinence and referenced me to a trusted PT. Corrine* sat with me for a long consultation, and asked me about my history and sex life. She explained the pain I felt during sex was directly correlated to my urinary incontinence, the exercises will relax my muscles. “I do have to have to touch you, but you need to do exercises as home. My philosophy is, I don’t want you coming back, and if we only do the work here, that won’t make you independent.”
I have a PhD in taking care of my own body, I’ll let you in a few tips. Number one: lay on your back and belly breathe as it drops the pelvic floor. Number two: cowgirl is fun, you feel more in control of your orgasm. And number three: if anyone ever takes joy in demeaning you know there’s always someone else who will want to help you … thank you Corrine.