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What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence (UI), is any uncontrolled leakage of urine. It is embarrassing and causes huge negative physical, psychological and social well-being impacts for women and their families.
It ranges from those who wee a little when they laugh, sneeze, run or jump to those who have such a lack of control they fail to make it to the toilet in time.
Incontinence is sadly rising. It is estimated that there are up to 3 million women living in silence to embarrassed to see their doctor and condemning themselves to a lifetime of low self esteem, confidence and lifetime of pads. Not to mention giving up sports and social activities for fear of wetting themselves.
Ladies, it really does not have to be this way. Lets break through this taboo and get back your confidence, get back your pelvic floor strength!
Types of Urinary Incontinence Include:
There are four main types of incontinence:
Stress incontinence. The most common type. Occurs due to a weak pelvic floor. When pressure is put upon the bladder when you lift a heavy object, laugh, cough, sneeze or run your bladder and urethra (urine outlet) are not strong enough to withstand the pressure due to the weak pelvic floor and therefore urine leaks out.
Childbirth is the most common cause of stress incontinence and the main treatment is pelvic floor kegel exercises.
Urge Incontinence. The second most common type. It is referred to as an overactive bladder. This is when you have a sudden urge to go to urinate and involuntary leak urine before you make it to the bathroom. You may also need to urinate urgently often. This often occurs at night.
Overflow Incontinence. This is when your bladder is not emptying properly and you are leaking urine involuntarily constantly even after emptying your bladder. This constant dribble is referred to as 'overflow'. Due to urine being left in the bladder this raises the opportunity for bacteria to breed leading to urinary tract infections.
Functional Incontinence. This is when a physical or mental reason prohibits you from making it to the toilet in time thus resulting in the loss of urine. These reasons could be from physical impairment such as arthritis, cerebral palsy etc or memory loss due to dementia . Depression and anxiety and inebriation due to alcohol are other factors also.
*Please note that you can have 1 or more types on urinary incontinence.
What causes urinary incontinence?
Firstly get an evaluation from your doctor.
Urinary incontinence can be treated. Its simply a symptom and not a disease. So GOOD NEWS!
It can be caused by such factors that range from daily habits (foods, alcohol, caffeine etc), underlying medical issues (infection, constipation) or physical issues (childbirth, pregnancy, menopause etc)
Pregnancy puts a huge impact on your pelvic floor muscles. You need to be regularly exercising your pelvic floor to strengthen these muscles and prevent urinary and prolapse issues (where the pelvic organs can bulge (prolapse) from their natural position into the vagina. Sometimes the prolapse can be so severe that it can protrude from the vagina).
Childbirth with a vaginal delivery can weaken the pelvic floor and damage muscle nerves and tissue which can also result in a prolapse.
Menopause. After menopause women produce less estrogen. This is a hormone that helps keep the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy. Deterioration of these tissues can aggravate incontinence and also lead to vaginal atrophy.
Hysterectomy. In women, the bladder and uterus are supported by many of the same muscles and ligaments. Surgery that involves a woman's reproductive system, including removal of the uterus, may damage the supporting pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to incontinence AND increases the chance of pelvic floor prolapse if the pelvic floor is not exercises regularly.
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