We have all just had nasty doses of the ‘flu in our house…started with the girls ( both teenagers so not fun to be around and of course they needed Mummy to make it better) then I started to come down with it (but we Mum’s don’t have time to be sick- do we?)…..and then my husband developed a particularly severe case (his words) of “man ‘flu”.
We were all coughing and spluttering and sneezing …fun family bonding…when I realised just how hard my pelvic floor must be working sneeze after sneeze, cough after cough . Lucky for me I don’t suffer from stress incontinence or a prolapse ( although regular readers will know I have a very public OAB - overactive bladder) but it got me thinking and feeling more genuinely empathetic for my many ladies (and gents) who have presented to my clinic this winter with stress urinary incontinence as a direct result of the flus and respiratory conditions they suffered. This has been as either sudden onset stress incontinence, a worsening of previously “manageable” stress incontinence or significantly worse stress incontinence.
This, in turn,led me to ponder at what point do symptoms of any type of urinary incontinence become so bad that a person seeks help….and for every person who is pushed to the point of making that decision – how many out there continue to suffer in silence , believing it is their lot in life and nothing can be done about it ? Going by comments from my patients the number is,sadly, huge : “since I’ve been coming to you I have mentioned it at my tennis group and lots of my friends have said Oh yes that happens to me too – nothing you can do except wear pads but I told them they have to make an appointment “…so – many of my patients educate their friends and spread the word in the community that there IS something you can do .
Here are some statistics from the Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) :
- 1 in 3 women who have ever had a baby have suffered incontinence
- an estimated 50% of sufferers do not discuss their urinary incontinence even with their GP’s
- poor bladder and bowel control (incontinence) is one of the biggest health issues in the Australian community,affecting around 2 million people
- incontinence crosses all age groups and both males and females
- almost 50% of all women aged 26-39 exhibit some form of incontinence at least once during this age period
- 50% of women 45-59 will have experienced some degree of urinary incontinence in the last 3 months
- statistics do not show the deeper social cost :psycho-social problems arising from lowered levels of exercise,from depression and social isolation
I don’t know about you,but these sort of facts alarm me and if you look at the continence organisations in other countries the statistics are very similar. Billions are spent annually on continence aids such as pads.
The other significant problem that can occur with excessive coughing and sneezing is a vaginal prolapse
The even sadder fact ,in my opinion, is the often overlooked statistic – again from the CFA
an estimated 60-70% of those affected could be cured or better managed.
Some studies suggest even higher levels of cure or improvement.
So….back to the question “at what point do people make that decision?” ….is it when
the cost of pads becomes too much?
the boss starts to notice more frequent absences from your workstation?
the embarrassment of a complete loss of control in the supermarket , hitting a golf ball or on the netball court?
you wet the bed?
you wet yourself during sex?
you felt a lump at the opening to your vagina ?
All of these have been reasons patients have given me recently about why they finally did something about their embarrassing little problem……..
What will your reason be and how long will you wait before you see a continence professional?
See you in a clinic near you soon !