Incontinence (leaking urine involuntarily) is very common and has numerous impacts on women:
It can lead to social isolation as women avoid going out or participating in group events for fear of embarrassment, reduced physical activity leading to increased BMI, higher rates of depression and can have a negative impact on sexual function. Also, continence products like continence pads and panty liners are EXPENSIVE!
Therefore, the more information you know about what type of leakage is, occurring what the cause is, and who to turn to for treatment , the more empowered you will be to make choices that suit you best.
Types of incontinence:
Stress urinary incontinence: leaking during times when stress is placed on the bladder e.g. coughing, sneezing laughing
Urgency urinary incontinence: leaking urine upon a strong, sudden, unable to defer, desire to pass urine. E.g. when you get home from the shops and put the key in the door and are busting to go to the toilet, then you leak with that sensation.
Mixed urinary incontinence: a combination of the above two
Faecal incontinence: leaking of faeces from the rectum, either on an urge to open the bowels or without an urge to open the bowels
Often women living with incontinence can feel like they are unable to talk to anyone about their symptoms.
The most important thing to know is there IS help available!
Who can you turn to?
Women's health physiotherapist - you do not need a referral to seek the help of a women’s health physiotherapist.
What are some options for treatment?
Pelvic Floor Exercise training
Ideally working with a women’s health physiotherapist to get a specific training program to understand if you need to strengthen, work on endurance or work on relaxation (yes, some women need to relax their muscles better to reduce incontinence)
Continence support devices
E.g. Contiform or pessary.
These devices are fit but qualified women’s health physiotherapists to assist women who have tissue dysfunctions, not necessarily pelvic floor weakness. They are inserted into the vagina, and work by supporting the organs and the urethra (urine tube) to help it close more effectively when you need it (coughing or sneezing or jumping)
Sort out your Bowels
Did you know that having constipation can worsen your incontinence?
A full bowel puts more pressure into your bladder and can result in increased incontinence. If you are struggling with constipation- monitor the amount of fibre and fluid in your diet, purchase a squatty potty to elevate your feet and hips to make it easier to open your bowels.
Every woman will be different when it comes to treatment- the best step to take is to consult a continence physiotherapist to determine your best, individualised treatment plan, and take control of your pelvic health!