Do you have any of these symptoms?
- Difficulty reaching the toilet in time (when you gotta go you gotta go)
- A leaky bladder or bowel when you sneeze, cough or exercise
- The need to empty your bladder “just in case”
- A feeling of heaviness or something dragging down
- Vaginal slackness
- Tampons slipping out
The main cause of incontinence is weakness of the Pelvic Floor Muscles.
Most people have heard of them but are often not sure of where or how they work and how to strengthen them.
The Pelvic Floor Muscles act like a sling for the pelvic organs (bowel, bladder and uterus) and attach from the pubic bone in front to the tail bone behind.
They not only support these organs, they also control the three passages that pass through the muscles- the urethra to the bladder, the vagina to the uterus and the rectum to the bowel.
The main reason they become weak is due to vaginal delivery during childbirth and the weight of the baby on the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy. This leads to stretching which causes weakness. Other causes, such as being overweight, hormonal changes during menopause, frequent heavy lifting and constant straining to empty your bowels will also contribute to pelvic floor weakness.
Remember though, incontinence is not purely a women’s health issue - it can affect men, especially after prostatectomy. We can also treat men with these symptoms in a similar way.
Here are some tips to prevent or improve your symptoms of a leaky bladder or bowel.
- Increase or maintain your liquid intake. It is recommended that you drink 1½ to 2 litres of water every day (6-8 glasses)
- Reduce your caffeine intake especially coffee and tea
- Ensure an adequate fibre intake to keep your bowels regular
- Avoid straining when opening your bowels
- Void only when it is necessary, never go “just in case”
- You should pass urine 6-7 times a day and 1-2 times at night at maximum (if you drink a lot more water then it is acceptable to increase this accordingly)
- Every time you go to the toilet you should pass at least a mug full
- You shouldn’t have dribbling or need to go again immediately- you may have a prolapse (weakened vaginal wall) if this is the case
- Perform regular pelvic floor exercises. A physiotherapist can teach you the best exercises to perform
- Maintain your general fitness
Remember, these are symptoms you should not have to put up with.
See a physiotherapist before they start to run your life.
Other Women’s Health Issues
Central City Physiotherapy also provides treatment for women following breast surgery. This will help you regain full shoulder function and movement, provide you with education on lymphodema and thus minimise the occurrence of secondary complications.
Treatment is also provided for pregnancy related complaints including mastitis, post natal perineal pain, back and sacroiliac joint pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Physiotherapy can help after lower abdominal surgery (including hysterectomy and prolapse repairs) to improve and maintain lower abdominal and pelvic floor strength.
If you are unsure if a physiotherapist is the person you should be seeing we would be happy to answer any of your queries by phone or e-mail.