You’re running for a bus, when suddenly, you sneeze. And … oh dear.
You get the picture.
It’s something rarely spoken about, but female urinary incontinence is an extremely common problem, affecting 12.5% of women worldwide, particularly in their 40s and 50s.
One US study found that 68 percent of women ages 42-64, experienced the problem at least once a month.
Urinary Incontinence can also affect men, but women are three times more likely to suffer.
Stress incontinence – what we often refer to as those ‘whoops!’ moments, when a cough or a sneeze or jogging, causes leaking urine, is very common in women over the age of 40. Women may also experience urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder – when you have that ‘must go’ feeling and end up losing control.
Although this is an issue that is often unspoken, it causes women huge amounts of distress. Research has shown that those who suffer from urinary incontinence have a significantly poorer quality of life than those who don’t have issue with continence, citing depression and psychological stress. Between 25–50% of women with incontinence problems say that it affects intimacy and their sex lives. Almost a quarter of women with urinary incontinence have had to take time off work as a result of the problem.
Unfortunately, 50% of those suffering from incontinence do not seek help, but self-help strategies and treatments are available.
There are different types of incontinence:
Stress incontinence – when pressure causes leakage
Urge incontinence – also known as an overactive bladder, when you suddenly need to go
Overflow incontinence when you’re unable to empty the bladder, is more common in men
Total incontinence is associated with age and serious health conditions
What can you do to treat urinary incontinence?
Losing weight can be a really positive step for those with stress and urge incontinence.
Excess weight exerts greater pressure on the urethra and the research indicates that those with the highest BMIs (typically 24.9 and above), were twice as likely to experience urinary incontinence problems compared to those with the lowest BMI.
Your doctor may recommend pelvic floor exercises and muscle and bladder training. Surgery may also be an option for some women.
One such surgical procedure includes a bladder neck suspension, which adds support to the bladder neck and urethra, reducing the risk of stress incontinence. The surgery involves placing sutures in vaginal tissue near the neck of the bladder — where the bladder and urethra meet — and attaching them to ligaments near the pubic bone. Surgical mesh used to be a common procedure for female incontinence, however safety concerns means surgeons no longer offer this.
There are also other newer, non-surgical treatment options which we can offer.
- Radiofrequency Treatment boosts the collagen and elastin, improving the blood flow, which in turn, creates new, healthy tissue. This helps better able to support your bladder – minimising symptoms of urinary incontinence.
- MonaLisa Touch laser treatment. Studies have shown this improves symptoms of stress incontinence by delivering fractional CO2 laser energy to the area to improve the tone and tissue elasticity of the vagina walls by stimulating the collagen to regenerate. It takes one to three sessions to have a lasting effect. One study reported improvements of 90% in vaginal laxity.
- Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy (PRP) is an exciting new treatment to help women who have stress incontinence. Previously, artificial bulking agents would be injected into the urethra to support cell growth which strengthened this area. Now, using the patient’s own plasma, we have a natural and safe way to regenerate the vaginal and vulval tissues and help with incontinence.
If you would like some more information on these procedures, we would be happy to discuss any queries you may have.