Urinary Incontinence is a very common complaint among women of all ages. Research has shown that up to 1 in 3 women who have had a baby, and approximately 10% of women who haven’t had a baby are affected by some type of urinary incontinence. Incontinence symptoms can range from small leaks with increased pressure to a complete loss of bladder control. There are different classifications of incontinence depending on the symptoms and the structures affected.
The involuntary loss of a small amount of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or with exertion.
A sudden and overwhelming need to urinate. The urge typically does not ‘match’ the output of urine. Urge might be triggered by external factors like running water or when unlocking the front door. It is not always associated with leakage, mainly frequency.
Leakage due to the inability to completely empty the bladder (Urinary Retention).
Sometimes it is unknown what the direct cause of incontinence is. Some factors that might contribute to incontinence or poor bladder control includes;
Depending on the physiology behind the incontinence different types of treatment options can be beneficial. Some elements of your treatment plan could be;
Good Bladder Health: Drinking 6-8 cups of fluid a day is beneficial for good bladder health. Too much fluid (yes this is a thing!) or too little fluid can affect our bladder in negative ways. Certain foods and drinks like caffeine, can cause spasms in our bladder leading to sudden urges to urinate. Sometimes we can unintentionally teach ourselves bad habits with going to the bathroom, so another component of management could be bladder retraining.
Good Bowel Habits: Our bowel has a significant affect on our bladder function therefore managing constipation can lead to a decrease in urinary symptoms. Alongside constipation management it is important to use good defecation dynamics to avoid extra strain on the urinary system.
Managing Chronic Respiratory Stress: Respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD and smoking can cause extra stress to the bladder due to the constant rebounding due to coughing, sneezing or impaired breathing. By using preventative measures or managing health conditions you can minimise the pressure you place on your urinary system.
Pelvic Floor Training: Pelvic floor training should be tailored to each individual depending on the reason for the incontinence. Some programs need to focus on pelvic floor strengthening, others need to focus on coordination or even endurance. After a detail subjected and objective assessment, your Women’s Health Physiotherapist can help design you a suitable program to help manage your incontinence.
Medications/Medical Intervention: There are certain medications and medical interventions that can help with urinary incontinence. Talk to your GP about what options would be suitable for you.
What To Do It This Sounds Like You
A thorough assessment of your bowel and bladder is important to determine the best course of management for your symptoms. Early treatment is beneficial to avoid any worsening of symptoms, reduced quality of life, ‘bad’ habit formations and to avoid infections. But it is never too late to start seeking help and improving your symptoms so that your bladder doesn’t run your life.