I1 in 4 Australians over the age of 15 live with incontinence – and it’s not just the oldies or the mums! 30% of men who visit their GP struggle with pelvic floor, bladder or bowel dysfunction; as do 65% of women. Incontinence can also affect sexual function.
What is incontinence?
Incontinence is a term that describes any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel (faecal or bowel incontinence). Bladder issues include urgency, frequency or leakage. Bowel issues can include diarrhoea, constipation, and faecal incontinence.
Does incontinence affect me?
If you experience bladder or bowel problems, but are not sure if you should seek help, try the questionnaire below from the Continence Foundation of Australia.
- Do you sometimes feel you have not completely emptied your bladder?
- Do you have to rush to use the toilet?
- Are you frequently nervous before you think you might lose control of your bladder or bowel?
- Do you wake up twice or more during the night to go to the toilet?
- Do you sometimes leak when you lift something heavy, sneeze, cough or laugh?
- Do you sometimes leak when you exercise or play sport?
- Do you sometimes leak when you change from a seated or lying position to a standing position?
- Do you strain to empty your bowel?
- Do you sometimes soil your underwear?
- Do you plan your daily routine around where the nearest toilet is?
Other indicators that you may have an issue include frequent bladder or urinary tract infections, reduced sexual pleasure in women, inability to create or maintain an erection in men, difficulty starting or maintaining flow of urine, and after-dribble.
Normal bladder and bowel function will vary from person to person. It is normal to have a bowel movement as often as once or twice a day, to once every 2-3 days. It is also normal to pass urine 4-8 times a day. It is more important what your urine or faeces look like than how often you go to the bathroom.
There are many causes of urinary and faecal incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction. It is important to remember that it can be treated, and in many cases cured.
Incontinence IS common, but it is NOT normal. If incontinence is affecting your life and your relationships, seek help today!
Call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66, chat to your GP, or book in to see Alexandra, our physiotherapist who has developed a passionate interest in pelvic floor dysfunction. Empower yourself to live the life you want to live!