Wellbeing of Women funds vital medical research on incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is twice as common in women as in men and becomes more common with age. The two most common types of urinary incontinence, which can occur simultaneously, are:
- Stress incontinence, when the supporting pelvic floor muscles are too weak to contain the urine, which leaks when the bladder is under pressure, eg coughing or laughing
- Urge incontinence, when you experience an extreme urge to pass urine
Don’t suffer urinary incontinence in silence. There are plenty of treatment options available and most do not involve surgery. If you have symptoms of incontinence, make an appointment to see your GP, who will carry out some simple tests and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist.
“It was just the odd leak at first, when I coughed or laughed. But it gradually got worse. I became very conscious of the fact I was leaking and would worry that people could smell urine on me. I began to get very anxious, so I made an appointment at the doctor, who suggested I do pelvic floor exercises. Well I tried, but the leaking became worse.
“Eventually, the doctor referred me to the hospital and arranged for me to see a physiotherapist at the Continence and Urology Clinic. I couldn’t believe that I was suffering from incontinence – I was only 50! The hospital checked how much my bladder held and how much I was leaking. Because of the weakness of the muscles around my bladder, I was told an operation would be necessary.
“When I was waiting for the operation, I attended physio, where they told me how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly. I did flow charts showing my fluid intake, how often I went to the toilet and how much urine I was passing. I was told I was drinking too much coffee, which can cause irritation to the bladder, and try drinking water, fruit juice and decaffinated coffee instead.
“Finally, I was given my operation date. The operation went really well and the difference was incredible – even more noticeable because I’d had a bad cold but no leakage at all. I have felt great since the operation and I don’t need to go the toilet as often. It’s taken a few weeks for me to recover but, as far as I’m concerned, the operation has been 100% successful.”