Incontinence is a huge issue. But one which sadly we still don’t widely discuss.
If the topic does crop up, it’s often as the butt of a joke. But it really is no laughing matter.
Although we might not like to talk about it, it’s high time we did. This widespread condition ranges in severity, from a ‘small leak’ to complete loss of bladder or bowel control. It can impact lives, damage confidence and often leads to sufferers isolating themselves.
But it really, really doesn’t need to be this way. Urinary incontinence can occur for a number of reasons.
And in many cases, it can be better managed, better treated… and often cured.
It is estimated that 7 million women in the UK are living with urinary incontinence. This number is probably much higher, as very few women seek help. After all, talking about wetting yourself is not exactly the sexiest of subjects. But the fear of embarrassment means women are suffering in silence, when it is completely curable.
So it’s time we got rid of this needless taboo… and help women understand what they can do about it.
What causes incontinence?
The pelvic floor is composed of layers of muscles that support the bladder, bowel and uterus. Normally firm and thick, the pelvic floor is like a hammock that is able to move up and down.
However, the muscles can become weak for many reasons, such as hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and menopause, or because of obesity or the onset of old age. Once the pelvic floor can no longer work effectively, this can lead to urinary incontinence.
There are three types of incontinence:
Stress incontinence is when we leak a small amount of urine during normal activities. It increases during exercise or when we sneeze or cough. Essentially, anything that puts pressure on the abdomen and pushes down on the bladder when the pelvic floor is weak and cannot support the organs. But stress incontinence is not the exclusive domain of hormonal, overweight or older women – it can also become an issue for those involved in impact sports such as running.
As the name suggests, this is the sudden need to go to the toilet. A properly functioning bladder remains relaxed while it fills up. As the bladder gradually stretches we start to need to go to the toilet, but most people can hold this until a convenient time.
However, urge incontinence makes the bladder feel fuller than it actually is, so it contracts too early. Even if your bladder isn’t full, you have a sudden need to go to the toilet.
Some women suffer from both types of incontinence.
What can women do?
Okay, that’s explained what causes incontinence. But the big question is: what can we do to prevent it? Your pelvic floor muscles support your uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. Kegel exercises can help to strengthen these muscles. These involve squeezing your muscles as if you are trying to stop a flow of urine – but don’t actually do it while you’re peeing, as it can cause infections.
While these exercises are good, it can take an awfully long time to strengthen your Kegels simply by squeezing.
The BTL Emsella chair
The BTL Emsella chair is a brilliant way to get the effects of thousands of Kegel exercises very quickly. This revolutionary chair uses electromagnetic technology to stimulate your pelvic floor muscles, offering a level of intensity it would be impossible to replicate by yourself.
It’s non invasive and many patients report results after a single session. You’ll need about six half-hour sessions over the course of three weeks. It isn’t painful, and restores pelvic muscle and bladder control. And it really works! 95% of those treated have reported a significant improvement in their quality of life.
Don’t suffer in silence
I feel so passionately that so many women are suffering needlessly with incontinence. Yes it’s never going to be a subject we want to talk about around the dinner table. But just a short course of treatment really can make all the difference.