We have now updated our Help & Advice page on our website. We have included lots of information and advice on living with and managing incontinence
A large part of living in confidence is understanding about your condition and taking positive steps to manage it and we aim to provide all the information you need to do this.
It is now even easier to find useful information about the different types of incontinence, its causes and support for carers of people with incontinence. There are also quick links to choosing the correct product for you complete with fitting guides and videos.
Why not click here and take a look!
We have now updated the useful links section of our website. It is now even easier to find useful information and support for people living with incontinence. You will also find a section dedicated to carers of people with incontinence and also a section dedicated to support groups for the older generation.
Why not click here and take a look!
Urinary incontinence is a subject former Changing Rooms TV presenter Carol Smillie openly speaks about, in fact the star has admitted to wetting herself in the past. She’s now on a mission to end the taboo around the bladder control issue.
One in three women, according to former Changing Rooms TV presenter Carol Smillie, have experienced some form of incontinence in their lifetime. In her own experience, both jumping on trampolines and blowing her nose too hard has seen the 54-year-old experience unwanted urinary incontinence.
Incontinence is an extremely common but lack of conversation surrounding the subject is resulting in people being left with an incorrect perception of the issue, and women delaying the move to incontinence underwear. Carol said: “Incontinence is a common problem after giving birth, and is usually associated with older women, but the truth is, the problem can be something women of all ages have to deal with. Incontinence is a problem people need to feel more confident to speak about, and regularly doing pelvic floor exercises are also important.”
Joining Carol Smillie in the fight against suffering in silence, TV personality Nadia Sawalha has also publicly shared her experience with incontinence.
The 51-year-old Loose Women panellist said: “Like a lot of other women, the very last person I wanted to talk to about incontinence was my husband. Even though I talk to him about everything else – this is the on the ‘no go’ zone between us. He¹s seven years younger than me, but I never feel any age gap between us – except when it comes to this. The more that women can talk to each other about this, the more our confidence will grow and enable us to talk to those closest to us.
TV doctor Dr Sara Kayat shed light on why this area of women’s health is not being given enough attention. She said: “There are many ’embarrassing’ conditions that in medicine we are constantly trying to normalise to ensure patients engage with us, for example – blood in stool, bleeding after sex and erectile dysfunction. The same needs to be done in the case of incontinence. This research highlights the lack of discussion of this topic between both friends and family and with healthcare professional – it also shows the psychological and social impact it has on people. British women are willing to put up with something that could be helped with the appropriate incontinence products. I truly believe that if women support each other, there will be more conversation giving women the knowledge and access to appropriate products to help manage their symptoms.”
Women across the country have appeared in a documentary aiming to raise awareness for adult incontinence – which affects one in three women in the UK. 45 per cent of women admitted that a sensitive bladder affects their happiness and can leave them feeling embarrassed in a body they feel is older than their years.
Inspired by the stories of real women, UK film director Flora Berkeley has produced a documentary called Our Story, Life with Adult Incontinence which talks about the condition.
Urinary incontinence may be the last taboo, but it is incredibly common, especially among women who’ve gone through childbirth or menopause. However, lots of women are still uncomfortable sharing their experiences, even with trusted confidantes.
As well as talking about the condition, there are simple lifestyle changes women can try too including frequent pelvic floor exercises, drinking less caffeinated drinks and finding the right specialist products.
Research by the NCT has also revealed many women who experience incontinence issues after having a child are suffering in silence. The research revealed that a third of those who developed urinary incontinence after childbirth were embarrassed to discuss it with their partner and almost a half were uncomfortable talking about it with friends.
If the taboo can be broken, changes can be brought about that will dramatically improve the lives of thousands of women. It is hoped that speaking out about the subject will reassure women that they are not alone and that treatment is available.
Our new 24-page Living With Incontinence Guide is a free guide designed to help people, or those they care for, who are living with incontinence. Incontinence is a fact of life for millions of people and we hope the guide will bring helpful information and suggestions on how to cope with the condition while living an every day life.
The guide is packed with information including the signs and symptoms of incontinence, the types of incontinence, its causes and its treatments. It also includes information on how best to manage the condition and the support that is available.
If you would like to receive a free Living With Incontinence Guide please email us your details by clicking here.
Most women know that the menopause can bring hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and sleep problems, but it seems fewer women associate the menopause with bladder problems.
As women enter menopause the muscles and ligaments that support the pelvic floor become weaker. These tissues are sensitive to oestrogen so as oestrogen levels fall they lose their strength and elasticity. This means that even small increases in pressure such as coughing, sneezing, laughing or even running can cause leakage.
Exercising the pelvic floor can help and the good news is that it’s never too late to start. When exercising your pelvic floor you are trying to mimic the sensation that you would have if you were trying to stop weeing mid-stream.
When you have an overactive bladder, you will get very little warning of the need to empty your bladder and sometimes if you can’t get to a toilet quickly enough, you may experience a leak. What I let my patients know is that it is a very common condition experienced by women of all ages but is increasingly common in menopausal women.
Pelvic floor exercises will help and there are several lifestyle factors that can influence the condition too. If you are carrying extra weight, losing a few pounds will help. Nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks also irritate the bladder lining so cutting back on these is a good idea. It is not a good idea to cut back on your fluid intake as concentrated urine is more irritating to the bladder lining and not drinking enough can make things worse, so always aim to keep your urine the colour of straw.
Around 50% of all menopausal women experience weakening of the front wall of the vagina, a quarter have weakening of the back wall of the vagina and a fifth will have weakness at the top of the vagina. This can lead to prolapse, which can cause pressure effects on the bladder meaning you may feel the need to urinate more frequently or may feel that your bladder isn’t emptying properly.
Pelvic floor exercises will prevent the condition getting any worse but once a prolapse has developed your GP may be able to fit a pessary or there operations which can be done.
A specialist incontinence service has been recommended as a blue print for others to follow nationally. The clinic has helped 1,000 women in Cornwall since it began two years ago. Farah Lone, a Consultant Gynaecologist who set it up has won a National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) award for its impact.
More than 5 million women in the UK are affected by the problem, England’s Chief Medical Officer said.
A spokesman for the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust said: “Large numbers of women are affected by differing degrees of urinary incontinence and it is those with the most complex cases that are referred to the team.”
Sharon Cooper, 53, said she had surgery after her incontinence stopped her from doing her job properly at a school. “I thought it would be better to have an operation and more quality of life,” she said. “I couldn’t walk my dog before because of it and I couldn’t go out dancing with my friends.”
Dr Lone said: “There are many causes of urinary incontinence and we work closely with uro-gynaecology and colorectal experts at both Bristol and Plymouth hospitals. “Most women who need specialist surgery can now have that here in Cornwall rather than having to travel out of county.”
An ‘Easy Step Guide’ has been developed for referral to simplify the pathway for patients and regular teaching sessions with GPs have also been set up.
The work Miss Lone has developed in Cornwall through her specialism is one of a handful of similar services around the UK. She will work on the future national development of models of care and research in the field, having been appointed to the Royal College of Gynaecologists’ Scientific Advisory Committee.
A recent study suggests that elderly women who have urinary incontinence during the day are at increased risk of falls at night, if they also wet the bed.
The reason may be that women who wet the bed are frailer or in poorer physical or mental health than their peers who don’t have a bedwetting problem, researchers note in the Journal of Urology.
“The study data suggested that poorer overall physical functioning was associated with falls and that incontinence was a marker for poor physical functioning,” said Glenn Brassington, a researcher at Sonoma State University who wasn’t involved in the study.
While not surprising, the results add to a growing body of evidence supporting efforts to reduce nighttime awakening and improve patients’ ability to safely navigate from bed to bathroom and back, Brassington said by email.
“The take-home message for me is that a multi-pronged approach including medical management, strengthening, health behaviors, and creating a safe environment will reduce falls and promote independent living and quality of life of older adults – women and men,” Brassington added.
It is sometimes overlooked that children can suffer from daytime incontinence too. The most common causes of urinary incontinence in children are:
- Constipation – in about 70% of cases, children experiencing urinary incontinence are constipated. A full bowel can put added pressure on the bladder, causing leakage of urine. Relieving the constipation will often alleviate the incontinence.
- A bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI).
- “Holding it in” – a child may hold their urine during an entire school day for fear of using a public bathroom, leading to urinary voiding issues, accidents and urine leakage.
- Younger children may hold their urine until the last second when they are distracted by play or activity, resulting in an “accident”.
Being aware of these issues can help your child to develop good toilet behaviour. However, if incontinence has become a regular or chronic problem, one of the best ways to help may be to take your child to a physical therapist who specialises in pelvic health. They focus on rehabilitation of paediatric pelvic floor muscles and have great success in helping children control and overcome urinary incontinence issues.
Interestingly, a large study suggests that the odds of a child having severe daytime incontinence is 3 to 10 times greater if one or both parents had the same problem.
Recent research indicates that the majority of people do not know what overactive bladder (OAB) is, let alone how is can be treated.
In a recent survey carried out in in Munster, Ireland over half the people surveyed did not know what overactive bladder was and 81% avoid visiting their doctor for help with the condition when it first occurs. The research further reveals that over 15% of Irish people experience bladder weakness issues overall – making it a more common condition than diabetes, affecting more than 350,000 people in Ireland.
The new research also revealed that there is confusion over what causes the condition, with 15% of Irish people overall believing it is simply a part of getting older, 34% believing it is a normal part of ageing for women, and 54% incorrectly thinking it is the result of an enlarged prostate for men.
Commenting on the research findings, Dr Suzanne O’Sullivan, President of the Continence Foundation of Ireland and consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital, said “OAB is a common problem, and whilst the incidence increases with age, it can affect young and old and men and women alike. It tends to creep up on people, and is distressing and embarrassing, having a very negative impact on a sufferer’s quality of life. It leads to low self-esteem and social isolation. Sufferers tend to seek help very late, as most are not aware how common and treatable the condition is.
“OAB occurs when the bladder muscle contracts suddenly and unexpectedly leading to severe urgency and even incontinence.
“Whilst OAB problems become more common with age, it is more common amongst young people than one would imagine. Often it is accepted as a normal part of ageing, but this should not be the case. It is important to understand this is not something that simply has to be tolerated. Once help is sought, and with the proper support, control of the bladder can be regained and the problem sorted.”
Furthermore, 65% of people in Munster do not know there are effective treatments available for OAB. “A worrying number of people are not seeking help for their OAB symptoms due to embarrassment or uncertainty. In today’s world, people prefer to turn to online sources to learn about health issues, especially bladder problems, as they feel awkward discussing this with others,” continued Dr O’Sullivan.
“Anyone with symptoms such as a sudden urge to urinate; urinating 8 or more times in 24 hours; or waking up at night more than once to urinate should speak to their GP to seek treatment. People experiencing this need to know that it’s OK to admit it, and they don’t need to feel embarrassed to talk to their GP,” she concluded.
Aside from the treatment available from GPs, people with OAB can also benefit from physiotherapy to help strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.
According to Maeve Whelan, a chartered physiotherapist in Co Dublin who specialises in pelvic floor treatment: “Most OAB treatment plans include simple lifestyle changes and bladder training techniques, as well as pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support your bladder.”