Women and incontinence
“To pee your pants when laughing” is not just an expression that something is very funny – it is also a problem that many women know. And that is not so funny. However, incontinence is often a neglected condition; maybe because it is still a bit tabooed, and moreover, it is not a life-threatening disease either. It is a condition, however, which can make everyday life very difficult for those suffering from incontinence. Thus, the condition has a big impact on a person’s life quality.
The NHS Choices found that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK may suffer from urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence affects both men and women. However, women are more likely to suffer from incontinence than men.
According to Bladder Control Advice, a study from 2002 found that 32 % of the women in the UK had had symptoms of urinary incontinence during the past 30 days (Best Treatments, Clinical Evidence for Patients from the BMJ).
Urinary incontinence mostly hits women who gave birth vaginally, and who have problems holding in their urine after childbirth. After menopause, the problem may aggravate for these women.
Luckily, there are many opportunities to get rid of incontinence. According to the Danish Continence Association, 7 of 10 can be cured of their incontinence. Thus, there is every reason to discuss the problem with your doctor.
Forms of urinary incontinence
Typically, you talk about two forms of urinary incontinence:
Urge incontinence and stress incontinence.
Urge incontinence is when you have a sudden and powerful urge to pee, and as it is not always possible to go to a toilet, this can be very problematic, of course. It is not always possible to find the cause of urge incontinence.
In Swedish, stress incontinence is called exertion incontinence, which perfectly describes what causes the involuntary discharge of urine. When the body exerts itself, the accident occurs, e.g. during lifting, dancing, coughing, jumping on a trampoline or other physical activities.
Stress incontinence is characterized by small accidents. Thus, the briefs from DRY & COOL are particularly suitable for stress incontinence.
Why can’t you hold in your urine?
As regards urge incontinence, it is not always possible to find the reason for this sudden urge to pee.
As regards stress incontinence, it is usually caused by a weak pelvic floor, which is often caused by childbirth.
Urinary incontinence may also be caused by overweight, hormonal changes due to menopause or actual diseases, such as urinary tract infections, dementia or diseases in the pelvic floor, the nervous system, or in the bladder.
Treatment of urinary incontinence – involuntary discharge of urine
In most cases, urinary incontinence can be cured or improved, and here, pelvic floor exercises, medical treatment, an operation, or change of lifestyle may be helpful.
Unfortunately, only a very few patients suffering from incontinence are treated for it. This is a pity as the Danish Continence Association has found that 7 of 10 get rid of their incontinence if they are treated for it. One reason for this could be that the problem is still a bit tabooed, and as the condition is not life-threatening, it is often neglected. However, the woman suffering from incontinence may find it very hard and restrictive on her social life as incontinence may cause you to stay away from social activities outside your own four walls.
If you suffer from urinary incontinence, you should talk to your doctor at first so that he/she can make a diagnosis. The purpose of the diagnosis is to identify the exact form of incontinence, and how it is reflected. Among other things, a fluid and urination schedule must be filled out, and a urine examination must be carried out for infection, glucose, blood and protein.
Thus, the exact diagnosis can be made so that the right treatment can be started. The medical practitioner carries out the diagnosing before he/she can refer the patient to a specialist/a gynecologist/urologist.
In case of stress incontinence, an operation may be a possibility. In case of urge incontinence, medical treatment may be a possibility.
Furthermore, you should not drink more than 1 ½ liters a day, which would only worsen your condition.
Finally, pelvic floor exercises would definitely improve the situation for many women.
You find DRY & COOL’s incontinence briefs here
Pelvic floor exercises for women
For most people, pelvic floor exercises may NOT rank high on the list of daily activities. We all know that pelvic floor exercises are very important, but if you do not have a current incontinence problem, it may easily be forgotten. Fortunately, it is never too late.
Just training their pelvic floor may help 50-60% of the women suffering from stress incontinence. Therefore, you should get started now!
For the best effect of your pelvic floor exercises, it is important that you do them on a regular (daily) basis, and that you do them correctly as well. The long and the short of it is that you must focus on your anus and try to image that you hold in a fart for 8-10 seconds. If you do 20 of these each day for 8-12 weeks, you will experience a perceptible effect. Avoid tightening your buttocks and stomach muscles.
If you are a beginner in pelvic floor exercises, you should start doing them in a reclining position.
Pelvic floor exercise guide
Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet on the ground. Squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles and feel that your rectum closes. Hold it there for the count of 10. Relax and have a break twice as long. Repeat the exercise 10 times, max. 30 times.
Lie on your side with your legs bent. Squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles and feel that your rectum closes. Here, you can also feel the squeezing around your vagina and urethra, especially when your pelvic floor is no longer too long and big. Hold it there (if you can) for the count of 10. Relax and have a break twice as long. Repeat the exercise 10 times, max. 30 times. You could try to put two fingers on each side of your rectum, preferably on the outside of your briefs. Thus, you will be able to feel when your pelvic floor hardens in the one side while squeezing, and how it softens while relaxing. If possible, you could lie on your right side at first, and then on your left side afterwards.
Lie on your back with your legs stretched. Squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles and feel your rectum closing. Hold the squeezing/the closing as long as possible without using your helping muscles (stomach, bottom, or thighs). Hold the squeezing/the closing for max. 30 seconds and then relax. The length of the squeezes (up to 30 seconds), and the number of squeezes (max. 30) depend on the performance of your pelvic floor. Listen to your body and stop the exercises when your pelvic floor cannot work without activating your helping muscles.
You can read more about the pelvic floor here
33% do not talk to others about their incontinence
45% talk to their doctor about their incontinence
41% are ashamed of their incontinence
29% experience a low self-esteem
23% feel depressed
SOURCE: The Nordic Incontinence Report 2012
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Pelvic floor exercises