Couple on a beach - incontinence

Whether you are male or female, young or old, about a quarter of the population will experience an issue with incontinence at some point in their life.

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is classified according to the type of symptoms experienced by each individual, such as:

  1. Stress incontinence: leaking of urine when you cough, sneeze or on physical exertion such as jumping or lifting something heavy.
  2. Urge incontinence: a sudden urge to pass urine and not being able to hold on for very long. With this type of incontinence, it’s likely that you will be going to the toilet frequently and you may experience some leakage after you’ve just emptied your bladder (dribbling).
  3. Overflow incontinence: being unable to empty your bladder fully and experiencing a mixture of the features of both stress and urge incontinence.

What causes urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is sometimes due to  weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. However, for some people strength isn’t the issue at all and the problem is due to difficulty coordinating their pelvic floor muscles to tighten effectively when needed.

Pregnancy or excessive weight gain, abdominal surgery or child birth may result in an increased pressure on your pelvic floor which is a common cause of stress incontinence.

Excessive alcohol or caffeine intake, poor fluid intake, constipation, urinary tract infections (cystitis) or the side effects caused by medication such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), diuretics and some antidepressants have all been linked to urge incontinence.

How is urinary incontinence treated?

First of all, it’s important to determine the underlying cause of your incontinence. Seeing your GP or a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic health will be able to assess your condition fully and advise.

You can expect to be asked questions about your lifestyle and bladder habits, including how often you drink, what you drink, how frequently you use the toilet and how much urine you normaly pass. So it’s worth thinking about this beforehand and perhaps keeping a record for a few days to take with you to your first appointment.

Your physical assessment may include an internal examination to assess the strength and condition of your pelvic floor muscles. This will help to guide the treatment approach.

Everyone is different, therefore the treatment of urinary incontinence will vary from person to person and you will get better results if your treatment is tailored to your own individual needs.

Although this condition is more common in women, we also see a number of men with urinary incontinence. The important thing is to recognise that although these symptoms are common, they aren’t normal and can happen at any age. The key is to seek treatment as early as possible.

If you have any questions at all or you’d like to discuss your condition, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

The Physiofit team!