World Continence Week is nearly upon us – so let’s brush up on the facts and challenge the myths.
Myth 1. Only women have pelvic floor muscles and incontinence.
Wrong – both men and women have pelvic floor muscles. They perform the same function in men and women: stop us from leaking urine, faeces and wind. Pelvic floor muscles are a big part of sexual function and enjoyment. Women are at greater risk of pelvic floor dysfunction due to childbearing and changes in hormones and menopause. But 1.34 million Australian men and boys are affected by incontinence.
This year, for World Continence Week, the Continence Foundation of Australia is promoting awareness and advocacy around men’s continence issues by supporting the BINS4Blokes Australia wide campaign. BINS4Blokes is promoting the installation of purpose-built rubbish bins inside men’s public toilets.
Myth 2. Incontinence is normal as you age.
Incontinence may be common, especially as we get older. But it doesn’t have to be your normal. The pelvic floor is a muscle like any other – it gets stronger with training and weaker when ignored. The good news is because it is a small muscle group, you can experience improvement relatively quickly.
Pelvic floor muscle training needs to include:
- Short sharp squeezes – This reflex is important for when you sneeze or jump, as it combats the quick sudden pressure on the pelvic floor.
- Long holds – This endurance is important to build, and can be the difference between seeing the end of a movie or having to duck out because you just can’t hold on.
- Variations – Think of a lift going up and stopping at different floors. Your pelvic floor doesn’t need to be completely on or completely off… and it depends on what you’re doing. All muscles respond to variations on your training – and that could mean doing them lying down, standing up, sitting, or when you are working out.
Myth 3. This is my lot in life, and I just need to put up with it.
Absolutely not! Incontinence, along with problems with sex or pelvic pain, can have several causes – not just a weak pelvic floor. The very first thing is to have a proper diagnosis. This is best done with a pelvic floor physiotherapist, with a referral from your GP.
We know that often men are much more reluctant to seek help – so here is a great resource to help start the conversation.
World Continence Week starts on the 21st of June and perhaps this is your nudge to get support. The Continence Foundation of Australia have a dedicated Helpline for both men and women to get support and information around incontinence on 1300 33 00 66.