What causes stress incontinence, put simply.
Stress Incontinence, also known as urinary incontinence, is where the bladder leaks as it is not as strong as it once was in a previous state. This is an extremely common condition among women in the UK, with the NHS estimating it affects up to 7 million women, with a prevalence of 17-40% being more common in the elderly population.
In many cases, it is said to be brought on by giving birth as well as the menopause, or through the weakening and damage of pelvic floor muscles, rather than ageing alone which many believe to be the root cause.
How does stress incontinence occur? urinary leakage tends to happen when sudden pressure is put onto the bladder, and unlike a normal functioning bladder which can withstand any extra pressure, a weaker bladder tends not too and that is when the problem begins. This can happen for example, when coughing, laughing, performing exercise and even when lifting heavy objects.
Such an issue can start to become quite uncomfortable for women and may feel embarrassing for the most part.
When to Worry
If you realise that something has changed in your normal routine, and find you are passing urine a lot more often or feel you are producing small leaks throughout the day, it may be time to consider a quick visit to your GP for an assessment.
As stress incontinence is also more likely to happen after childbirth, studies have proven that this can lead to increased post-natal depression in women. It is crucial to get to the root of the problem as soon as possible, and know that there are ways in which it can be helped and that you are certainly not alone in this situation.
Treating Stress Incontinence
To begin with, it is highly recommended to see your GP in order to assess your individual situation. Your GP may be able to suggest some methods to improve symptoms, such as general lifestyle changes, perhaps losing weight and cutting down on certain things like alcohol or caffeine.
Another way is through doing pelvic floor exercises which are basically exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor so that it keeps from leaking. These types of non-operative treatments tend to improve many women’s symptoms alone, leaving them without the need for an operation.
However, there are still many women who require an operation to drastically improve their quality of life. There are various operations which can be carried out for stress incompetence so it is best to discuss these through with a specialised gynaecologist such as Mr Broome to find the one that is most suitable for you.
All of these types of operations work to strengthen the bladder and urethra so that it becomes easier to pass urine in the future with less possibility of leaks from occurring ever again.