Urinary incontinence is defined as any leaking of urine. It can be an embarrassing condition where suffers have to alter their lives for fear of having an accident. Some have to wear pads. Others avoid social engagements. Women are 5 times more likely to suffer from incontinence due to childbirth and menopause.
Pregnancy and childbirth place varying degrees of stress on to the pelvic floor. During pregnancy, the weight of the baby puts stress on the pelvic floor muscles, which have to work increasingly hard to support the growing weight of the baby. Natural childbirth can cause trauma to the pelvic floor. A large number of women experience incontinence in the hours and first few days after childbirth. For most, the incontinence resolves within the first few days. For some women they continue to experience incontinence. For these women a postnatal check-up by a specialist women’s health physiotherapist is highly advantageous.
There are a number of possible contributing factors that could be behind the reason why the incontinence is ongoing for these women and a full check-up can help to establish the cause and an individualized treatment plan.
The other time in a woman’s life when incontinence can happen is menopause or peri-menopause. This is in part due to fluctuating levels of hormones, however incontinence during this time can also be treated. Since every woman experiences menopause differently, it is important to see a specialist women’s health physiotherapist. There are two main types of urinary incontinence: urgency and stress.
Those who suffer from urinary urgency incontinence often describe a sense of urgency. They describe scenarios such as when they are almost home and put the key in the door, that is when they feel a rising sense of panic and urgency. Sometimes these people describe not quite being able to make it to the toilet in time. Stress incontinence is when the pelvic floor muscles are unable to cope with increased downward pressure i.e. when coughing, sneezing, laughing hard or jumping. The stress placed on the pelvic floor by the increase in intrabdominal pressure can cause leaking. It’s important to establish which type of incontinence you suffer from. Sometimes people suffer from a combination of the two. Determining this will help your therapist in selecting the appropriate treatment.