Urinary incontinence can have serious implications on your confidence and ability to go about your everyday life. Urinary incontinence is treatable and there are many things you can do with the help of specialist health professionals and on your own to laugh again without leaking and improve your quality of life.
Urinary incontinence is involuntary passing of urine or poor bladder control which can happen for several reasons.
Stress Incontinence has nothing to do with emotional stress - it is the leaking of small amounts of urine during activities that increase pressure inside the abdomen and push down on the bladder. This occurs mainly in women and sometimes in men (often after prostate surgery). Being a company focused on women’s health, we are focused on stress incontinence in women.
Stress incontinence is most common with activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking, lifting, or playing sport.
We are currently researching and testing a solution to assist women who experience light bladder leakage due to stress incontinence and we will keep you updated. Please come back to this page to check for any updates or simply become a registered user on our website and receive our eNews.
Stress incontinence in women is often as a result of pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Pregnancy and childbirth often stretch and weaken the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and urethra causing stress incontinence during activities that push down on the bladder. This can also be caused by a traumatic vaginal delivery.
Following childbirth women’s abdominal muscles are often weak or separated. If these muscles are not healed over time it puts a lot of stress on the back and pelvic floor muscle causing low back pain and weakened pelvic floor muscles. To understand this, imagine your abdomen and back are 2 sides of a rectangle and the top is your diaphragm and the bottom your pelvic floor. If any one of the sides of the rectangle are weakened the whole rectangle may collapse or have adverse effects on the other sides of the rectangle, which is effectively your core. One of the critical reasons to address your abdominal muscle separation (DRAM) postpartum - see the SRC Recovery garments range.
It can also happen to women who have not had children and some studies show this to be one in five women over 45 years experiencing this type of incontinence.1
During menopause, the hormone oestrogen is produced in lower quantities. With less oestrogen, women can experience stress incontinence during menopause because one of its functions is to maintain the thickness of the urethra lining to keep the urethra sealed after passing urine.
Other factors contributing to stress incontinence include diabetes, chronic cough (linked with asthma, smoking or bronchitis), constipation and obesity.
Urge incontinence is a sudden and strong need to urinate, which may also be referred to as an ‘overactive bladder'.
The condition is not yet fully understood but it seems to become more common with age. Symptoms may get worse at times of stress and may be made worse by caffeine in tea, coffee and fizzy drinks or by alcohol. Urge incontinence may also occur as a result of constipation, an enlarged prostate gland in men or the result of a long history of poor bladder habits.
Urge incontinence has been linked to stroke, Parkinson's disease, MS and other conditions which may interfere with the brain's ability to send messages to the bladder.
Incontinence associated with chronic retention is when the bladder is unable to empty properly, resulting in frequent leakage of small amounts of urine.
Symptoms that your bladder is not completely emptying include:
Functional incontinence is defined as physical, intellectual or environmental issues that can be a contributing cause of incontinence for people with a normal bladder function.
Functional incontinence may be the result of not being able to get up and walk to the toilet;
If you are involuntarily passing urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting weights, or playing sport then you are not alone, and you can do something about it. An Australian study found that over a three-month period, 50% of women aged 45-59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence.2
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is the most prevalent type of urinary incontinence3, also known as effort incontinence, is due essentially to insufficient strength of the pelvic floor muscles and caused by loss of support of the urethra. It’s almost always a result of an underlying and treatable medical condition but is underreported to medical practitioners.3
As many as 4 in 10 women suffer with urinary incontinence during pregnancy4. During pregnancy, your baby grows and pushes down on your bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles. Over time, this pressure may weaken the pelvic floor muscles and lead to leaks or problems passing urine.
Most problems with bladder control during pregnancy go away after childbirth when the muscles have had some time to heal. Problems during labor and childbirth, especially vaginal birth, can weaken pelvic floor muscles and damage the nerves that control the bladder. Most problems with bladder control and continence that happen as a result of labor and delivery go away after the muscles have had some time to heal. If you’re still having stress incontinence issues 6 weeks postpartum, talk to your doctor, nurse, or midwife.
Here’s a list of medical experts who can all assist with urinary incontinence from a number of different perspectives and in different ways:
With the help of your health care professional you will be able to ascertain the STAGE of your urinary incontinence:
Stages of Urinary incontinence
Stage I - Light, urine loss quantity maximally until 10 g (10 mls)/24 hour
Stage II - Moderate, urine loss quantity of 11 to 50 g (11-50 mls)/24 hour
Stage III - Heavy, urine loss quantity over 50 g (50+ mls)/24 hour
The earlier you can address the problem the easier it will be to treat, so please don’t put it off any longer.
Many women do not think that such simple actions can treat urinary incontinence. But for many these somewhat simple steps make urinary incontinence go away entirely or help with the severity of urinary stress incontinence. These steps may include:
The most important of the above in treating stress urinary incontinence is improving the strength of your pelvic floor. Most women have heard about it and know the basics about the importance and function of their pelvic floor, yet few take Pelvic Floor exercise seriously. So, let’s explore the importance of this amazing muscle!
You could say it’s the most important muscle that rarely gets mentioned or exercised consistently and you don’t have to be in the gym to do it, in fact you can do it anywhere!
Research indicates that stress urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, or both occur in about half of all women who have given birth. These issues are closely associated with birth-related injury to the pelvic floor muscles.5 Many issues can cause the structure of the pelvic floor to weaken, including:
Practicing for just a few minutes a day could assist with incontinence, prolapse after childbirth and improve your sex life.
Pelvic floor exercises are of great benefit for pregnant women because the pelvic floor muscles can stretch and weaken during labor. Strengthening these muscles may help prevent urinary incontinence after the baby is born and some health care professional recommend that women who wish to become pregnant start pelvic floor exercises before getting pregnant.
To exercise your pelvic floor muscles, (also known as Kegels) you should be seated comfortably (It may be easier to learn how to do Kegels correctly while lying down) and then, try to squeeze their pelvic muscles without holding your breath. It is important to isolate the correct muscles without tightening your stomach stomach, butt / glute and or thigh muscles. You can find a much more detailed explanation here, some anatomical diagrams, how to find and isolate your pelvic floor muscle, as well as other exercise you can perform.
It’s recommended that women aim to do 10 long squeezes — holding each for 8 seconds — followed by 10 short squeezes. However, initially, it may be a good idea to practice holding a squeeze for a few seconds at a time.
By practicing regularly, you should be able to add more contractions to your routine every week. As with all exercise, it is important to do this gradually and to avoid overworking this muscle group.
Within a few months, you may notice a reduction in the symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. Even if your symptoms resolve completely, you should continue strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and make it a regular part of your fitness routine.
Here’s an excellent app to help you do your pelvic floor exercises http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/pages/pelvic-floor-first-app.html
It’s never too late or too early to start on your road to pelvic health.