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.”
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Traditionally adverts for incontinence products have characterized adult incontinence by showing people gardening or golfing. However a new advertising campaign in the United States flips this on its head.
Lisa Rinna, the TV Host and Actress, best known for her roles in “Days of our Lives” and “Melrose Place” is seen wearing something unusual under her red-carpet gown, Incontinence pants.
Rinna, 48, and husband Harry Hamlin, 60, are part of a new Depend campaign targeting the Baby Boomer generation. Hamlin points out that the dress she wears on the red carpet is by designer Herve Leger, known for his tight creations. “You have to be poured into the dress,” he says, adding, “Usually when you wear that kind of dress, girls don’t wear anything underneath!” Rinna adds, “I could have chosen a dress that wasn’t as nice, that was more forgiving. I chose the tightest you could possibly choose to show that you can live a normal life.”
They both say it’s a serious problem. “If you have it, it shouldn’t be taken lightly,” says Rinna. “What it does is create shame and embarrassment and not feeling good about yourself or not going out of the house that you used to be able to do. I’m someone who loves to empower women and show people you can go for it.”
The celeb couple are helping to kick off the Great American Try On website. North American Football League athletes Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers), Wes Welker (New England Patriots) and DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys) also try on the new Real Fit briefs under their football pants.
The benefits of IncoStress are now recognised “across the pond” with this device now being actively sold in Canada as well as the UK. The device, worn like a tampon, that can help many women who suffer in silence with the Urinary Stress Incontinence – the involuntary loss of urine when, for example, coughing, sneezing, laughing or even when just running.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized Urinary Stress Incontinence as a global issue that can affect as many as 1 in 5 women at any stage in their lives. WHO have stated that too many women “silently suffer from its life-disrupting consequences.”
IncoStress is a petite and discreet device, worn like a tampon, that can help control the inadvertent loss of urine suffered by many women.
IncoStress supports the urethra (the tube that allows loss of urine from the bladder) and supports the bladder neck helping restore it to its anatomically correct position. The ergonomic shape of IncoStress can allow the pelvic floor muscles to be gently exercised, which, over a period of time, could strengthen the muscles. Regular pelvic floor exercises are always recommended and these may be carried out with the IncoStress in place.
Made of medical grade silicone, IncoStress can be worn for up to 8 hours at a time and is environmentally friendly as it can replace six month’s worth of the incontinence pads that are worn by many women suffering with Urinary Stress Incontinence.
Women should be aware that female incontinence is “not a normal part of ageing” and can often be avoided or managed with the correct lifestyle changes and treatment, it has been claimed.
Dr Lonny Green, director of Virginia Women’s Continence Centre in the US, insisted that the majority of women do not have to live with incontinence.
Speaking during National Bladder Health Awareness Week in the US, Dr Green explained that women can get treatment and advice by speaking with a specialist in female urology.
“We see a large number of patients who have dealt with pelvic dysfunction and incontinence for years,” Dr Green revealed.
“Often, these issues could have been avoided – if not improved – with awareness and proper treatments.”
Figures suggest that 13 per cent of UK women are affected to some extent by urinary incontinence, although many of these have only mild symptoms and can manage their condition effectively with products such as Tena Lady.
The vast majority of cases of urinary incontinence are either stress or urge incontinence, both of which may respond to conservative treatments, such as lifestyle changes and bladder training.
Female incontinence is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom that can usually be treated effectively, an expert has claimed.
Dr Dexter Arrington is an obstetrics and gynaecology doctor at Silver Cross Hospital in Illinois, US.
He regularly sees women who are ashamed of their reliance on incontinence pads, such as Tena Lady, but insists there is no need for embarrassment as the condition is very common.
Dr Arrington told the Herald News: “Urinary incontinence isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom.
“It can be produced by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions or physical problems.”
Fortunately for the millions of women who experience bladder weakness and incontinence, there are effective treatments.
Surgical treatments can often be carried out as outpatient procedures, removing the need for hospital stays.
However, doctors usually recommend a number of lifestyle changes before considering surgery.
These include reducing your caffeine intake, drinking six to eight glasses of water a day, losing weight if necessary and doing pelvic floor muscle exercises.
Female incontinence is a common side-effect of pelvic organ prolapse surgery, but new research suggests that the fitting of a device called a midurethral sling could help to reduce this risk.
The sling – also known as tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) – consists of a thin strip of mesh which is placed under the mid-urethra and becomes incorporated into the body tissue, replacing the weakened ligament under the tube that leads from the bladder.
Its aim is to support the urethra so that the patient does not experience stress incontinence, in which urine leaks when a woman strains, such as when she coughs, sneezes or laughs.
Researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have now carried out a study to see whether the procedure is effective at preventing incontinence in women undergoing prolapse surgery.
The scientists followed more than 300 women who underwent pelvic organ prolapse surgery, none of whom had stress urinary incontinence prior to having the procedure.
Half of the women were fitted with a mid-urethral sling, while the others were not.
Participants were examined three months and 12 months after undergoing surgery to see whether they were experiencing female incontinence.
The researchers found that 49.4 per cent of women who did not receive a sling during surgery complained of urinary incontinence at three months, compared with just 23.6 per cent of women who were given preventative treatment.
A similar trend was seen one year after surgery, when 43 per cent of the control group and only 27.3 per cent of sling patients needed incontinence pads, such as Tena Comfort Mini Plus or Lil Form Classic Super.
Lead researcher Dr John Wei concluded: “Our findings suggest that preventative treatment for urinary incontinence during pelvic organ prolapse surgery decreases the incidence of bothersome urinary incontinence symptoms.”