URINARY INCONTINENCE - WHO IS AFFECTED?
What do we know about urinary incontinence? Well, it turns out that in the 21st century we know a lot, but we don’t talk about it much.
It is the involuntary, uncontrolled leakage of urine that leads to partial or complete emptying of the bladder. There can be various causes: congenital defects, history of surgery and operations, overactive bladder or weak pelvic floor muscles.
Studies show that this problem already affects one in five women over the age of 20. The perception that urinary incontinence is mainly a problem of older people causes younger women to underestimate the issue and not to seek medical advice. This is also due to the fact that urinary incontinence is still an embarrassing and little publicised problem.
As this is still a taboo subject, few people want to talk about it, even with their doctor. Meanwhile, failure to do anything about it can lead to a worsening of the dysfunction and, in addition, causes stress and anxiety that affects the comfort of life.
Urinary incontinence has become a social disease worldwide. The chart below illustrates how large a percentage of women have a problem with it (compared to other social diseases).
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WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF URINARY INCONTINENCE?
- weak pelvic floor muscles or the so-called stress urinary incontinence – manifests itself by urine leakage during e.g. sneezing, coughing, physical activity;
- overactive bladder – this is an urgent urge on the bladder that makes you feel like you need to go to the toilet straight away;
- pregnancy and childbirth – incontinence is caused by excessive muscle strain and hormonal changes;
- obesity, hormonal disorders, menopause.
- dysfunctions of the central nervous system often caused by diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke.
- congenital defects and past operations and surgeries that can also result in urinary incontinence;
- smoking, alcohol abuse.
HOW CAN WE HELP EACH OTHER?
In order to deal with the problem effectively, we need to find out what type of incontinence we are dealing with and determine its cause. This is necessary to prepare an effective treatment. That is why it is so important to make an appointment with a urogynaecological doctor or physiotherapist.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of women do not see a specialist until several years after noticing the problem, and by then it is often too late to implement conservative treatment.
We can also take care of our own health ourselves by introducing an appropriate diet, exercise, reducing excess weight, limiting or eliminating stimulants or, finally, using hygienic products available on the market, which, although they do not cure, definitely improve the comfort of life.
You can read more about how to help yourself on our blog.
CHILDBIRTH AND SHORT-TERM URINARY INCONTINENCE
Pregnancy causes different changes in our bodies. Some are pleasant and nice, while others are troublesome, tiring and embarrassing. Urinary incontinence belongs to the latter group. Every second expectant and postpartum woman has to deal with it. This condition can occur at any time during pregnancy, but most often it manifests itself in the third trimester, when the uterus is at its largest.
The reasons are hormonal changes, overloading of the pelvic floor muscles and pressure of the developing foetus on the bladder walls. Uncontrolled urine leakage can occur when sneezing, coughing or even lifting the baby. Unfortunately, this cannot be completely prevented, but a visit to a urogynaecological physiotherapist early in pregnancy can reduce the risk of unwanted complications. By doing the recommended exercises to strengthen the relevant muscles, and by following the recommendations of the physiotherapist during pregnancy and after the birth, your return to shape will certainly be easier and faster.
You can read more about incontinence in pregnancy and after childbirth on our blog.