Female Incontinence

I have come across so many women who think that a bit of urinary incontinence is a “normal” part of life. In fact 65% of women sitting in a GP waiting room report some type of urinary incontinence, yet only 31% of these women report seeking help. While urinary incontinence is common, it is not a normal part of being a woman.

Women who undergo pelvic floor muscle training are 8 times more likely to report being cured of their urinary incontinence. And no, pelvic floor muscle training doesn’t mean just squeezing a few times at the traffic lights; we do thorough assessments of muscle strength and then tailor a specific exercise program to meet your strength and endurance goals. We then create a treatment plan to reassess strength regularly to ensure that we are meeting those goals and always have backup plans in place if things aren’t improving as expected.

While pelvic floor muscle training is an essential part of incontinence recovery, many forms of incontinence may be affected by other factors. Bladder irritants that may make the bladder more sensitive may also contribute to incontinence; these include artificial sweeteners, caffeine and soft drinks. Consulting with your physiotherapist regarding lifestyle factors such as diet, toileting habits and fluid consumption may be an integral part to curing a patient’s incontinence.

The above image shows a side on view of the pelvis including the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and rectum). As seen in the image, the pelvic floor muscles act like a hammock for the pelvic organs without which the pelvic organs would descend down past the pubic bone. As humans have evolved to stand upright, the pelvic floor has become the last line of defence to hold the pelvic organs inside the abdominal cavity.

Lauren Riddell – CCHN Physiotherapist