Do you find yourself experiencing incontinence, or the loss of bladder control, during activities like laughing, sneezing, or coughing? If so, you're not alone. Incontinence affects 1 in 3 women, with many women particularly in their 30's to 50's experiencing this issue. Incontinence can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing problem to deal with. However, there are treatments available to help manage it. In this blog, we'll explore some of the causes of incontinence and the treatments provided by gynaecologists and other health professionals to help you feel confident and in control.
What is Incontinence?
Incontinence can be a frustrating and disruptive condition, but it's important to know that it's common and treatable. There are two main types of incontinence: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence happens when the muscles supporting the bladder and urethra weaken, making it harder to hold urine in the bladder. This type of incontinence is often triggered by physical activity, such as laughing, coughing, or sneezing. Urge incontinence happens when the bladder muscles contract too frequently, causing the urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full.
Treatments for Incontinence
If you're experiencing incontinence, the first step is to see a healthcare provider. They can help determine the cause of your incontinence and recommend a course of treatment. Here are some treatments commonly provided by healthcare professionals:
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, are a series of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and urethra. These exercises involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic muscles, and they can be done discreetly at any time. Pelvic floor exercises can be very effective for treating stress incontinence.
We can try to improve incontinence through several simple lifestyle changes. These changes include reducing weight, reducing caffeine intake as well as alcohol intake. Another change we can make is to not force ourselves to drink a certain amount of water! We are all unique and different, and so the volume of water we need to drink differs from person to person.
There are several medications available to treat urge incontinence. These medications work by relaxing the bladder muscles and reducing the urge to urinate. However, they can have side effects, so it's important to discuss any medications with your healthcare provider before starting them.
In some cases, medical devices may be used to manage incontinence. For example, a pessary is a small device that's inserted into the vagina to support the bladder and urethra. This can be helpful for women with stress incontinence.
A physiotherapist can help provide appropriate guidance and exercise to treat incontinence, particularly for stress incontinence. A physiotherapist can work with you to develop a personalised exercise plan that targets the muscles involved in bladder control.
Biofeedback is a technique that can help you learn to control the muscles involved in bladder control. During a biofeedback session, sensors are placed on your body to measure muscle activity, and you're given feedback on how to control those muscles.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat incontinence. This can involve a variety of procedures including a mid-urethral sling (biological or synthetic) surgery, sacral neuromodulation, and other surgical procedures according to the type of incontinence that needs to be addressed.
There are several other ways to address incontinence. The non-invasive Neotonus Chair sends electromagnetic stimulation of the pelvic floor muscles to assist with urgency incontinence. This is achieved by stimulating nerve activity in the pelvic floor, subsequently exercising the muscles that assist with bladder function, improving its strength and endurance. Another procedure, named Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation, is non-invasive. It aims to provide treatment for an overactive bladder by providing indirect stimulation of the sacral plexus through mild electrical impulses of the tibial nerves, helping the bladder regulate its function. Vaginal laser can also assist with stress continence and other forms of incontinence that is related to vaginal atrophy.
While there's no surefire way to prevent incontinence, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding constipation
- Doing pelvic floor exercises regularly
- Limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol
- Avoiding certain strenuous exercises and activities on the pelvic floor muscles
Incontinence can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem, but it's important to know that it's treatable. Whether you're experiencing stress incontinence or urge incontinence, a health professional can help determine the cause of your incontinence and recommend a course of treatment. By taking steps to manage your incontinence and reduce your risk, you can feel confident and in control. Remember, you're not alone, and there are many treatments available to help you manage your incontinence and live your life to the fullest!
Take the first step today and schedule an appointment with our Women’s Health GP to see how we can help. Book on our website or call us on 7225 4335 to organise an appointment. Remember, you deserve to feel confident and in control!
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