Urine incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine and is often seen as an embarrassing problem, but please be assured, when it comes to incontinence problems, you are not alone… It is thought to affect millions of people worldwide so there is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Whether you leak without noticing, have ‘urge incontinence’ or it just happens when you’re doing exercise, laughing or sneezing, we can help. Many people do not tell their doctor about their incontinence, due to embarrassment. Some people wrongly think that incontinence is a normal part of ageing or that it cannot be treated. This is unfortunate, as many cases can be successfully treated or significantly improved.
Sometimes it’s because your pelvic floor is too weak, sometimes it’s because your pelvic floor is too tight. Our specialists Physios can do a gentle internal examination to work out why your pelvic floor isn’t working as it should. They can even release off some of the tight trigger points in the pelvic floor muscles to help them to activate properly. Amazingly, this can often reproduce long term pains patients have been having and treatment here can be the last piece of the puzzle that sorts it out!
Stress or Urge Incontinence
There are various types of urinary incontinence, but the two main types are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence occurs when there is a sudden extra pressure on the bladder and the pelvic floor muscles are too weak to prevent urination. Urine will tend to leak most when you cough, laugh, or when you exercise. Weakness of the pelvic floor muscles can result from childbirth and may be exacerbated by other factors such as age, constipation, having a chronic cough and being overweight.
Urge incontinence is when there is an urgent desire to pass urine and it is thought to occur as a result of incorrect signals being sent between the brain and the bladder.
A specialised assessment by one of our Women’s Health physiotherapist will include a discussion on your toileting habits, your daily intake of fluids, previous pregnancies and childbirth and past medical history. Assessment may also include, with your consent, a vaginal examination to determine the strength and function of your pelvic floor muscles.
Incontinence in Pregnancy
Urinary incontinence in pregnancy should not be ignored as research suggests that if you develop stress urinary incontinence during your pregnancy you are more likely to suffer from incontinence years later. The mounting pressure of the uterus on your bladder gives you less room to store urine at a time when your pelvic floor muscle may be being stretched by the weight of your baby. Childbirth can also lead to pelvic floor trauma. You may notice that you leak urine when you sneeze or find it harder to hold your urine when you need to ‘go’.
An assessment with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist is often all you need to prevent this, making sure that you are doing the right pelvic floor exercises. Activating the correct muscles for a suitable length of time is important in maintaining a strong pelvic floor throughout your pregnancy and beyond.