Women’s Health Week enables us to spread more awareness on sensitive topics that often both women and men don’t feel comfortable talking about. Stress urinary incontinence is one of these topics.
Do you ever leak a small amount of urine when you laugh, jump or sneeze? Then you may have stress urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence affects up to 37% of Australian women as well as 13% of men. That means that 1 in every 3 women experiences these symptoms (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006). According to a study in the Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal, 70% of people with these urinary leakage symptoms do not seek advice or treatment to help with their problem. According to an Australian study, 50% of women over the age of 45 years old experience some degree of mild moderate or severe urinary incontinence (Millard, 1998).
Stress incontinence is usually caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. Women are more pre-disposed to pelvic floor dysfunction due to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause which all can affect pelvic floor function.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, fascia and nerves that form a supportive layer below your pelvic organs and aid with bladder and bowel control, support of pelvic organs during increased intra abdominal pressure (such as sneezing).
Pregnancy and childbirth can cause the pelvic floor muscles to stretch and weaken which can cause urinary dysfunction. Reproductive hormones, particularly oestrogen have a big impact on pelvic floor function. During menopause, hormonal changes occur including a decrease in oestrogen. Oestrogen is essential in maintaining the thickness of the urethra and as result some women can experience stress incontinence with these hormone changes.
Stress urinary incontinence can be improved with physiotherapy management.
Management can include setting a home exercise program for pelvic floor muscle training, bio-feedback, and bladder training. If you are experiencing any urinary symptoms don’t hesitate to contact us here, one of our experienced Physiotherapists can help you.