Stress incontinence is an embarrassing condition which affects many women the world over. It is especially common in those who have had children, as the trauma of childbirth and the pressure on the stomach which pregnancy can cause can lead to weakening of or damage to the pelvic floor muscles.
Most people diagnosed with urinary incontinence in the UK are sufferers of stress incontinence, which means that leaks occur when sudden pressure is exerted on the abdomen or bladder. This pressure can be created by simply coughing or sneezing, by exerting oneself and even by lifting heavy objects.
While many men do experience urinary incontinence, it is much more common in women, particularly those over the age of 40. As many as 20% of women are thought to have stress incontinence to some degree, but the figure could even be higher; many women shy away from discussing it because they are embarrassed.
Though more common in older women, stress incontinence is not itself caused by the aging process, but rather comes about as a result of damage to the group of muscles which work together to control urine flow. As well as pregnancy and vaginal childbirth, this can occur if the bladder is damaged during surgery (a hysterectomy, for instance), as a result of taking certain medicines including diuretics, antidepressants and sedatives, and when certain neurological and connective-tissue disorders are present.
The main symptoms include leaking small quantities of urine when you laugh or sneeze and if you’re experiencing this, it’s probably worth paying your doctor a visit.
Mild symptoms can be managed with changes to lifestyle and behaviour – reducing fluid intake and quitting smoking can both help substantially in less severe cases. Pelvic floor exercises and certain prescription medicines can also help to reduce symptoms, but in more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
Mr Broome specialises in operations to treat stress incontinence, prolapsed uterus surgery and other gynaecological procedures, making him an excellent choice if you find yourself needing surgery, as he can ensure comfort before and during surgery. Contact us to find out more about the procedures available.