According to statistics from The Continence Foundation of Australia, 4 million Australians suffer from urinary leakage. 1 in 3 women who have ever had a baby will have this problem at some stage in their life. But his is not just a “women’s problem”. Men also experience this problem most commonly related to prostate surgery. But whatever the cause or reason or associated medical condition, help is available for any of these problems:
- Stress urinary incontinence: the problem of leakage with exercise, coughing, sneezing, moving suddenly, lifting. It can be very mild but may progress to a severe loss requiring pad use.
- Urgency incontinence: the problem of leakage associated with strong desire to pass urine which is difficult to defer. You may find yourself rushing to the toilet but won’t make it in time. This problem usually progresses over a long period. If urgency and frequency comes on suddenly it could be a urinary tract infection and you should see your G.P. or Physio to guide you.
- Difficulty emptying: You may feel that you don’t empty your bladder properly. You may just need to go often and need to go again too soon after emptying. It may be that the bladder does not empty properly. A quick look is possible in rooms with Ultrasound. You come in with a full bladder, empty and we can measure what is left in the bladder. Your G.P would send you for a more formal Ultrasound study.
- Frequency and urgency: You may experience urgency and frequency but not have any leakage. If it BOTHERS you then its a problem worth addressing. Fear of leakage is often the reason why people change their bladder habits, start to empty “just in case” and more frequently.
- Bladder, bowel or uterine prolapse. Any of the organs can prolapse or “come down”. Some doctors will talk generally about “vaginal prolapse” which means one, two or all three organs have “come down”: prolapse is common in women who have delivered a baby via normal vaginal delivery. It can also occur for those with chronic cough, those who do heavy lifting and those who are overweight. It can be very uncomfortable and cause a dragging sensation or heaviness in the vagina.
- Before and after pelvic organ surgery: After a hysterectomy, you need to exercise the pelvic floor to prevent prolapse of the bladder or bowel later in life. After prolapse surgery itself, you need to exercise the pelvic floor and learn how to USE those muscles in daily life to prevent re-prolapse. You will need to exercise to prevent having surgery AGAIN, later in life ( a horrible thought!)
- Before and after prostatectomy: Men have pelvic floor muscles just like women. These muscles, along with a special “sphincter’ of muscles around the urethra (bladder tube), need to be strengthened so that men can regain bladder control easily after the prostate has been removed. During the operation, part of the bladder’s natural closing mechanism is removed. This is why you will need your pelvic floor muscles after the operation. Most men are surprised at what little effort is needed to exercise the pelvic floor. Once learnt, these exercises will be easy throughout life to help you maintain bladder control.
- Before and after radiation or hormone therapy for CA Prostate Men who are having these methods of cancer management, sometimes miss out on pelvic floor instruction. It is likely that you may have bladder and even bowel control issues as the years go by so don’t forget, there is hope for improvement with pelvic floor rehab.