World Incontinence Week - Women's Health

World continence week is June 19 - 25.

It aims to challenge the myth that incontinence is an inevitable part of childbirth or getting old. It encourages people to seek help rather that suffer in silence. Yes - incontinence can be associated with pregnancy, childbirth and menopause, but it can affect women of all ages, causing social isolation, financial stress and anxiety. The good news is that people can get treatment for urinary incontinence. Leakage is common but not normal. The sooner you seek help the better.

Our bladder has two main functions. It stores and empties urine. It is supported by our pelvic floor muscles.  

Our pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that run from your pubic bone to your tailbone. It supports your pelvic organs and keeps you dry. If our pelvic floor muscles or their connective tissue are weak, we can experience incontinence.

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Taut Pelvic Floor  ‘Hammock’

Pelvic floors can become taut with spasm and over activity just like any skeletal muscles.

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Toned Pelvic Floor 'Hammock'

Good muscle strength that gives us control over bladder and bowel.

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Droopy Pelvic Floor 'Hammock'

Refers to weak low tone muscles.

Urinary incontinence is when we have an involuntary loss of urine from the bladder. It can affect up to 37% of Australian women, 12% of which have never had children or are under the age of 30.  Obesity, constipation and chronic coughing can also increase the load on the pelvic floor causing incontinence. At this stage it is good to add that wearing incontinence pads is not the only way to manage symptoms.

Women can suffer from stress urge or mixed incontinence.  

Stress incontinence

Leakage can occur with coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects or high impact activity that put pressure on the bladder. It is the most common type of incontinence. Women’s health physiotherapists work to education and teach pelvic floor exercises and self management strategies to improve the problem and if there is no structural impairment cure it.

Urge incontinence

Leakage happens when an individual experiences a strong urge to urinate. It is also called “overactive bladder”.  Treatment can include bladder training education with a women’s health physiotherapist. 

Mixed incontinence

Is a combination of both urge and stress incontinence.

At Active Physiotherapy our  message during world incontinence week is to seek professional guidance if you are at risk of pelvic floor problems.  Our take home message is simple -

Our pelvic floor comprises of a group of muscles that function to support the bladder, uterus and bowel.  Strong pelvic floor muscles will allow us  the freedom to get on with activities of daily living in a “dry; way.

Further resources:

www.continence.org.au
www.wonhealth.org.au