Have you ever decided not to join your family or friends for the fear that you wouldn’t know where the toilet is? Do you plan your outings around the places where you know there is a toilet nearby? Have you ever made it to the door, but wet yourself while trying to get the key in the lock? If so, you’re not alone.
Monday 17 June kicks off World Continence Week – a good reminder that incontinence isn’t just something you have to put up with.
Incontinence in women and men
Incontinence is the involuntary leaking of urine or faecal matter. Many believe that this is just a natural part of aging, especially for women who have birthed a baby. And while child bearing and age are risk factors of incontinence, it’s not a foregone conclusion.
The pelvic floor muscle is largely responsible for making it to the toilet in time or holding your control when you suddenly laugh or sneeze. And like any other muscle in the body, it responds, at any age with strength training. To maximise any muscular training, it really helps to get some support and advice from a professional.
For men the risks may not be as many, but they are still there. Statistics tell us that 65% of women and 30% of men sitting in a GP waiting room report some type of urinary continence. Yet only around one third of all those leaking will seek help from the doctor that they are visiting.
Causes and diagnosis
Incontinence can happen for a variety of reasons. There could be a urinary tract infection, or constipation. However, if your leaking has been persistent or worsening, it could be an indication of:
- weak pelvic floor muscles
- overactive bladder
- pelvic floor muscles that are too tight
- damage to the nerves of the pelvic floor
- blockage in prostate or post-operative prostate surgery for men
- pelvic organ prolapse (prolapse means to “fall out of place” and can refer to bladder, bowel or uterus) for women.
Because the possible causes are so diverse, correct diagnosis is essential. Your pelvic health professional will ask a number or questions and performs tests that allows them to make the right assessment. The right assessment will mean the right advice to improving your situation.
Putting up with urinary incontinence is not something you have to do. Your pelvic health professional may assist you with simple lifestyle changes, such as including more fibre in your diet to avoid straining on the toilet. They are also able to show and teach you how to correctly perform pelvic floor strengthening exercises.
Once you learn how to correctly perform a pelvic floor exercise, you can incorporate this when lifting a weight – like a weight at the gym, or a grandchild! Include your daily pelvic floor exercises in your Living Longer Living Stronger ™ classes.
The Laugh without Leaking campaign
This year the Continence Foundation of Australia have adopted a Laugh without Leaking campaign to challenge the silence and shame around incontinence. What would you rather do – laugh with family or friends? Or suffer in silence? Don’t let your incontinence stop you from living your best life.