FIRST THOUGHT: Leaking Information
The other day, I asked my 30-something friend who’s a mom of two, “You don’t have incontinence, do you?” She said, “Well, I can’t jump on a trampoline, that’s for sure.” Another friend of mine goes to a physical therapist specifically to strengthen her pelvic-floor muscles. My friends’ experiences really got me thinking about how much emphasis we put on our physical appearances, like toning our legs with SoulCycle and counting calories. While those things certainly keep you healthy, what about the stuff that’s harder to see? How have we managed to forget about the layer of muscles that span the bottom of the pelvis, supporting us? Today, bring a little stability back in your life and do some kegel exercises. Heck, do them on the bus, in a meeting, at lunch. You got this, girl.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 1 in 3
One in three American women are affected by some kind of bladder leak. There are plenty of reasons for this health concern. One major reason is pregnancy, and the hormonal and physical changes that come with it. The bladder feels pressure, causing pelvic muscles to weaken. Of course, other reasons are menopause, being overweight or having several urinary tract infections. Neurological damage like spina bifida can also affect bladder function.
WOMAN TO WATCH: MaryEllen Reider, Co-founder of Yarlap
Women with urinary incontinence often experience psychological distress and a poorer quality of life. This is without a doubt a pressing women’s issue. Fortunately, women like today’s Woman to Watch, MaryEllen Reider, have created solutions to such women’s issues. She co-founded the company Yarlap, which sells an FDA-cleared artificial-intelligence device specifically for this problem. Kegels can be surprisingly difficult to master, so that’s where Yarlap comes in: It tones and strengthens your pelvic-floor muscles for you.
MaryEllen isn’t scared to drop some truth about the physical and emotional impacts of bladder leakage. That being said, she has approached her company with significant caution, which is a clear must when selling medical equipment. Using technology to change someone’s well-being is simultaneously thrilling and frightening. One of MaryEllen’s favorite quotes is by Tina Fey, who says if there’s a problem, you should be part of the solution.
Instead of simply asking why pelvic health isn’t discussed, MaryEllen acted on Tina’s advice and developed what many find to be a solution. Toning your pelvic floor is one of those things you don’t think about until you need to, and if this is your first time hearing the term “pelvic floor,” you aren’t alone, sister. MaryEllen enjoys talking about the things that others find hard to discuss.
MaryEllen’s co-founder happens to be her father, a medical-device designer. When looking back on what she wishes she knew while launching her startup, MaryEllen says having a board that contributes more than just funding is key. From experience with distribution to legal protocols, she was lucky enough to find help and support from her team. Another shrewd tip she gives is to employ subcontractors who are about the same size as your company, as they will most likely understand your position better.
MaryEllen believes improving women’s lives through Yarlap will also help the environment by saving pads and diapers from being tossed in landfills. Several women have also reported better sexual health, thanks to Yarlap. MaryEllen says the funniest thing that’s happened to her since her company’s inception is that women of all ages have called her to share their enthusiasm about how their sexual expression has improved thanks to better muscle control. MaryEllen’s device proves you can kill two (or more!) birds with one stone, and solve a handful of problems by creating just one smart solution.
When it comes to success, maintaining mental, emotional and physical health are all vital to achieving hard-to-reach goals. Read our four tips for improving your pelvic floor health with AI technology by clicking here or, if you’re listening via podcast, head over to OnTheDotWoman.com!
QUITE THE QUOTE
Designing a medical advice for a fairly hush-hush problem makes MaryEllen Reider’s work even more exciting. Let’s close it out with a quote from our very own Woman to Watch:
“When women are able to be informed and given the right resources, amazing things happen.”