Coping with stress incontinence
What is stress incontinence?
The pelvic floor muscles wrap around and support both the bladder and urethera, if these muscles become damaged then they are no longer able to support the bladder as they should. When pressure within the abdomen increases there can be an involuntary loss of urine due to the pelvic floor not being able to hold the urethra tightly closed, this can cause urine to leak out and is known as stress incontinence.
Stress incontinence can affect both men and women, although more commonly women.
This form of incontinence can also occur as a side effect following surgical procedures, men may suffer symptoms following surgical treatment’s on the prostate, Prostatectomy (removal of the prostate), radiotherapy, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP).
Additional conditions that can cause stress incontinence in both men and women are conditions where a chronic cough maybe present or when an individual suffers with obesity, this is due to the added weight within the abdomen pushing down and weakening the pelvic floor. High impact exercise such as running, jumping and abdominal crunches can also increase incidence of leakage due to the impact on the bladder. Constipation may also prevent the bladder from expanding to its full capacity, as the bowel presses onto the bladder urine may leak out.
How can I reduce pressure on my bladder and regain control of my pelvic floor?
Pelvic Floor exercises:
Pelvic floor exercises will help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the bladder and urethra.
To strength the pelvic floor it is recommended that you sit comfortably on a chair and squeeze the muscles 10 -15 times, ensuring that you are not holding your breath or tightening additional muscles such as abdominal and buttock muscles at the same time. These exercises should be carried out daily to improve bladder control, after a few months of regular exercises an improvement should be noted.
Find out more about Pelvic floor health HERE
Lifestyle changes may also help to reduce the incidence of wetness. If an individual is obese, weight loss may help reduce the additional pressure on the bladder, combined with low impact exercises, however this should be discussed with your GP to ensure a safe programme can be adopted to suit your individual needs.
Regular bowel movements will reduce the risk of constipation and therefore lessen the pressure on the bladder and enable it to expand effectively, maintaining a healthy varied diet will ensure this is achievable. Drinking the recommended 6-8 glasses of fluid a day will ensure that the bowel stays active and the urine dilutes, reducing the risk of irritation to the bladder walls.