Many women embarrassed by incontinence
Around one in four Irish women over the age of 30 suffer with light adult incontinence (LAI) – often referred to as a sensitive bladder – but many are too embarrassed to seek help for the problem, new research indicates.
LAI occurs when the bladder stops working normally. There can be several reasons for this, such as a leaky valve at the bottom of the bladder or weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles. Any of these factors will result in the bladder not working effectively, which will lead to a urine leak.
According to the findings, Irish women with the condition tend to feel less confident, with 11% suffering from depression and one in 10 having problems with their sex lives.
Meanwhile one in five women has never sought medical help for the problem or thought that help was available to them. While some 60% of those who have experienced it worry that others will see them as old, despite the fact that childbirth is one of the main triggers.
“Stress, anxiety and depression are clearly the unwelcome traveling companions for so many women with LAI. As a result their LAI is likely to be exacerbated and their self-image harmed by a health problem many associate with the stigma of aging. The only way to break out of this vicious circle is first by becoming more open and then by actively exploring the many treatments now available,” explained UK stress specialist and psychologist, Dr David Lewis.
There are a number of steps a woman can take to help her overcome LAI, including doing pelvic floor exercises and learning relaxation techniques. For those who seek medical help, the success rate is higher than 70%. Concerned women should approach their GP or practice nurse.
The research noted that half of Irish women with LAI who had built up the courage to discuss the condition said that talking about it reduced their feelings of stress and embarrassment, leaving them better able to cope.
“More than 70% of women of reproductive age can be helped. It is so important to promote a positive attitude. The turning point for many women is changing the way they perceive incontinence. The greatest success comes when a woman feels empowered, takes charge of the situation, and re-establishes control over her bladder. Simple interventions lead to a greatly improved situation and empowerment leads to a better self-image and restored confidence,” commented Dr Suzy Elneil, a consultant uro-gynaecologist at University College Hospital in the UK.
The research was carried out by Always Envive.
[Posted: Mon 16/03/2009]