It is a common misconception that women who suffer from urinary incontinence are older women. Whilst it is an issue that occurs as we age, the truth is that women of all ages can suffer from urinary incontinence, even those that are active, young and are in good health. Incontinence product expert HARTMANN Direct confirms that their customers vary in age and that urinary problems are not just resigned to those who are older and overweight. In fact, around 25% to 45% of women suffer from urinary incontinence, which can be as little as one leak in a 12-month period. The chances of contracting urinary incontinence does increase with age, it affects 20%-30% of young women 30%-40% of middle-aged women and up to 50% of older women.
The problem with urinary incontinence
One of the worst things about urinary incontinence is that it is embarrassing. After all, the last thing that you are going to want to admit is that you have a problem with controlling when you go to the toilet. Not only this, but there can be the concern that it is going to happen whilst you are out and about, as well as that you may have to change your clothes too.
All of these things can weight on a person’s mind when they have incontinence and leave them feeling ashamed.
The causes of urinary incontinence
In order to understand just how common urinary incontinence is, you are going to need to look at the things that can cause it. It is important to remember that incontinence comes in a variety of forms and each type is caused by a different number of issues.
Possibly the most common is stress incontinence, which is when you can leak urine when you cough, laugh or sneeze. The main reason for stress incontinence is due to pregnancy and childbirth. Some women can experience damage to their vagina and their pelvic floor during childbirth and some can struggle with an increased amount of pressure on their tummy during pregnancy itself. Surgery can also cause the issue, particularly if there has been any damage to the bladder or around this area, such as during a hysterectomy. You may even find that neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos, can also cause a problem.
Another form of incontinence is urge incontinence. This is when you have a frequent and urgent need to go to the toilet. The reasons that urge incontinence can occur vary. One is that you are drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks, both of which are known to increase the need to go to the toilet. You may also find that you have urge incontinence due to a low level of fluid intake, which is then irritating your bladder. Constipation is another reason that you may have urge incontinence and certain medications can also cause the problem.
Overflow incontinence is when you have been to the toilet, only to find that your bladder hasn’t totally emptied, leading to incontinence. This is usually caused by a blockage or an obstruction that has developed within your bladder. A common reason for this is constipation, as these systems are so close to one another, however, you may also find that bladder stones can cause this particular type of incontinence.
You may even find that a medication that you are taking for another issue can actually have the side-effect of causing some form of urinary incontinence. This includes diuretics, antidepressants, sedatives and even HRT. Which makes urinary incontinence much more commonplace than you may realise.
What can be done about urinary incontinence?
Just because urinary incontinence is common, that doesn’t mean that you have to simply cope with it and hope that it gets better. Much like many disorders, there are certain things that you can do to make the issue better and hopefully even go away in the long run.
The best place to start is to talk to your doctor, they can help you to identify what the underlying issue is causing the incontinence and then recommend and suggest approaches that you can take to make things better. You may find that you need to stop taking the medications that are causing the incontinence, as well as thinking about practising your pelvic floor exercises, which will also help with the problem.
Needless to say, over time and with treatment, you can improve your urinary incontinence and start to feel better and more confident too.
*This is a collaborative post*