Women, do you ever leak down below? Is this normal? NO. Is there something you can do about it? YES.
Let’s talk about your bladder. Do you leak when you cough, sneeze, jump or run? Do you need to go to the toilet more than “normal” during the day or night? Do you have the urge to go to the toilet and just don’t make it? Is this normal? NO. Is there something you can do about it? YES.
The shocking stats
Shockingly 1 in 3 women suffer from Pelvic Health issues during their lifetime. It is a taboo subject and can affect the physical, psychosocial, social and economic well-being of women and their families. Studies show that in the UK only 1 in 4 of these women have consulted their GPs about their symptoms and when they present their symptoms to a physician management of these conditions vary wildly.
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is the most common symptom, in other words, leaking involuntarily on effort or exertion or on sneezing or coughing. Others have Urgency (Urinary) Incontinence (UUI) whereby there is a loss of urine associated with urgency i.e. a sudden need to urinate that is difficult to delay. Some women have a mixture of both.
Why does this happen?
There are several conditions that cause loss of bladder control, however, the most common is a weak pelvic floor.
Your pelvic floor muscles run from the front of your pelvis (on the pubic bone) through to the back of the pelvis (the coccyx). Think of them as a hammock supporting your organs that allow us to carry out our daily functions!
Many women notice changes of bladder symptoms during their first pregnancy with worsening symptoms with future pregnancies and vaginal deliveries. Evidence has suggested that severe tearing during childbirth which isn’t treated effectively at the time can lead to bladder issues many years down the line which can lead to poor
quality of life, social exclusion, embarrassment, and depression.
What can be done about it?
Women believe that having a slight bit of incontinence post birth is normal and struggle on and adapt their lifestyles, not seeking treatment as they think the only solution is surgery. Things cannot be further from the truth and these conditions are often easily treatable with specialist womens health physio.
What are the other risk factors for bladder issues?
• Chronic Constipation
• Chronic coughing
• Heavy lifting – through your profession or exercise regime
• Hormones – e.g. menopause
• Pathology in the bladder
• Neurological problems
What can a Women’s Health Physiotherapist do to help?
The National Institiute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend physiotherapy as a first line of treatment for those with incontinence or bladder issue providing a “supervised pelvic floor muscle training of at LEAST 3 months duration”.
Pelvic floor exercises are often done incorrectly with many women given leaflets post-natally with nobody in place to ensure they are doing them effectively. Studies have shown that even though women have been given verbal instructions as well as a leaflet – only half are contracting their PFM effectively.
It is a very specific muscle to contract and can be hard to feel if you are doing the exercises properly. Sometimes it is necessary to do an internal exam to check that the women can contract their muscles in the correct way which helps to improve confidence that you are doing the exercises correctly.
Physiotherapy also focuses on breathing coordination and making sure you are not over recruiting other muscles, lifestyle advice, education on fluid intake, effective bowel contraction and general exercise programmes.
What to do now?
Book an appointment to come in to see Marni Cochrane for a thorough one-hour assessment, which will include discussing your current symptoms, providing a diagnosis and making a plan for the improvement of these issues. The first session may involve an internal assessment if appropriate, but this is something that will be discussed in detail during the initial meeting and documentation will be provided prior to the appointment to help you understand the process.
All assessments are carried out in relaxed private treatment rooms. Please bring along an informal chaperone if you would like.
Call 02075838288 to book now, email email@example.com or book with Marni Cochrane online.
Check out the Physiotherapy and Women’s Health Website affiliated with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (POGP) on www.pogp.csp.org.uk
which provides excellent resources for patients under the section “Information for Patients” section. It discusses many Women’s Health related issues and the physiotherapist role in treatment of these conditions.
Call us on 02075838288 to find out more or email firstname.lastname@example.org.