Are you suffering from stress incontinence?
If you suffer from incontinence, it could be stress incontinence.
Although it has specific causes, it’s very common at any age and doesn’t only affect older people.
In fact, about 4 out of 100 adults in the UK regularly experience incontinence, and 1 out of 4 has experienced it at some point. But this is only the number of people who tell their doctor, so the true number is likely to be much higher!
If you are suffering from stress incontinence, you are probably wondering why. It is important to understand what’s going on in your body, so that you can relax and deal with the symptoms properly.
Whatever age you are when you experience the problem, there are ways of coping with it, and maintaining a normal, active lifestyle.
What is stress incontinence?
Stress incontinence usually happens when extra pressure is on the bladder, or even on the tummy. This pressure can be caused by all kinds of things, including vigorous exercise, but also little things like laughing, coughing or sneezing. You can tell if you have stress incontinence by whether you lose control over your bladder during activities like this.
In people with weakened pelvic floor muscles, the bladder cannot take this pressure, and urine can leak out. This could be just a small amount that is hardly noticeable, or it could be enough to cause discomfort. If you find you are leaking quite a lot of urine, you’re not alone, and there are lots of causes to address, as well as action you can take.
Causes of stress incontinence
Everyone is different, and a wide range of things can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and cause stress incontinence. Some of these include:
- Old age
- Injury to the urethra area
- Chronic coughing
- Some medications
- Some treatments for prostate cancer
- Surgery on the pelvic or prostate area
While some of these things, like obesity and smoking, can be directly addressed, other causes will need different solutions.
How to relieve the symptoms
If you experience mild stress incontinence, you could try avoiding certain things to see if your symptoms improve. These include:
- Carbonated drinks
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruits
Many people assume that drinking far less water than usual will help solve the problem. But this can actually cause more problems than it solves. Drinking less water can make your urine very strong, and this can irritate your bladder and make you want to go to the toilet more.
As well as things to avoid, there are also actions you can take to improve mild stress incontinence.
Because problems are caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles, pelvic exercises called Kegel exercises can help to tighten things up a bit, and stop urine from leaking out.
Women might find something called a vaginal cone useful. This allows you to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing to keep the cone in place inside your vagina.
It is always best to see your doctor when experiencing incontinence, and medication or surgery might be best in more severe cases.
Coping with Symptoms
There is no reason to suffer in silence with stress incontinence, as there are nearly always actions you can take to solve the problem. However, it can take a little while to get things completely sorted, and you will want to be a comfortable as possible in the meantime.
To keep you dry and comfortable, and avoid any embarrassment, try using incontinence pads. There are lots of types of incontinence pads available, so you are bound to find something that suits your needs.
As an alternative you could also try pull-up incontinence pants. More environmentally friendly than incontinence pads, you can simply wash them as you would normal underwear, rather than having to throw each pair away.
Just click here to be taken to our incontinence products shop.