What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence also known as overactive bladder (OAB) is a global problem that affects more than 200 million people worldwide (from the World Health Organization). According to the NHS, between 3 to 6 million people in the UK are affected by some form of urinary incontinence. Women are 5 times more likely to develop urinary incontinence than men and 6% of women between the ages of 15 to 44 experience continence issues.
While most occurences of urinary incontinence occur in women, it does affect men too with 10% of men over 65 have some form of urinary incontinence.
What is urinary incontinence?
The loss of voluntary control to hold your urine is known as urinary incontinence, and some people may feel shame or embarrassment due to it. The severity ranges from little leaks during sneezing and coughing or small jumps to not being able to hold the urine at all. There are four main kinds of incontinence we will talk about..
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
Many of us will have experienced this before. Sometimes it happens when we have a small burst of laughter and a little bit of urine leaks. This is known as stress incontinence, which actually has nothing to do with emotional stress. It is one of those most common forms of incontinence and largely effects women. In fact, women are five times more likely to have urinary incontinence than men.
Stress incontinence can happen when we laugh, sneeze, while exercising or carrying heaving items. The leak is mainly due to a stress or pressure buildup in the bladder. If the pelvic muscle is weak or damaged, the urethra doesn’t close properly, which is why there can be those leaks caused by the pressure buildup in your bladder. This is a very common condition, and affects an estimated 30% of women worldwide.
Have you ever felt like you desperately needed the loo, and even the sound of water makes you feel like you’re peeing? Or if you walked down the chilled aisle in the supermarket and suddenly feel like you need a wee? This is urge incontinence.
Just like the word urge, you feel a sudden need to go for a wee or soon after you just had one. This could also result in small leaks before you even reach the loo. These can happen because of an overactive bladder. This can also occur during sex or while having an orgasm.
Chronic Urinary Retention
Also known as overflow incontinence, this is a common condition. This is when you don’t feel like you have finished using the loo despite having just relieved yourself. This mainly happens because the bladder has swollen beyond its usual size. This type of incontinence is bit tricky because you may constantly feel the need to wee despite not actually needing to go at all.
Like the name suggests, total incontinence is when you have zero control over your bladder and you frequently wee a large amount of urine, or you may wee occasionally and have frequent leakage.
What causes a weak bladder leading to urinary incontinence?
- Muscle damage sustained during childbirth, especially if you have given birth vaginally.
- Increased pressure in your stomach area, like when you are pregnant or perhaps overweight.
- Having a hysterectomy, a surgical process to remove the womb in women or prostate gland in men, can cause some damage to the bladder.
- Being born with a bladder issue or sustaining an injury to the spinal cord.
- Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol can cause your muscles to contract which can lead to urge incontinence.
- Not drinking enough water also can cause concentrated urine to collect in your bladder, which can irritate the bladder causing urge incontinence.
Kegel exercise and physical therapy for pelvic floor muscles
A really great way to treat urinary incontinence is by doing Kegels, a pelvic floor exercise which helps to strengthen the muscles to reduce the involuntary contraction. It is also often the safest remedial option with very little side effect or any complications. Kegel can be done at anytime and any places and no one will be able to find out.
This is a humorous take on Kegel’s from Madge the Vag on Scarry Mummy.
Urinary incontinence is quite common among people who are overweight because of the increase pressure in the bladder. One remedy for incontinence is via losing weight.
Some research have shown that women with incontinence who have significantly reduce their weight have reduce the occurrence or severity of incontinence.
Another great way to remedies for urinary incontinence is retraining the bladder. Bladder retraining is a process where people with urinary incontinence are asked to contract and relax the bladder muscles. This combination of contraction and relaxation of muscles will strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor which allow people with urinary incontinence to increase time to use the toilets. This exercise works really well along with Kegel exercise. For bladder retraining to work effectively it can take from six to eight weeks.
The food you eat and drink can also have profound effect on your bladder problem. Here are list of some food that might affect your overactive bladder problems.
Citrus and acidic fruit juices such as orange, cranberry and even tomato juice can irritate the bladder.
Carbonated and fizzy drinks caffeinated, are some drinks to avoid as they are diuretic which means they make you go to the toilet more frequently.
Alcohol is a diuretic and increases urine production, so it is likely to make symptoms worse for people with an OAB.
Smoking can irritate the bladder and is a risk factor for bladder cancer.
There recently was a social media campaign launched, #ControlYourChoice to empower women to seek minimally invasive treatment options for SUI. The campaign was launched to remove the SUI stigma and ensure no woman is ‘suffering in silence’ due to incontinence.
Incontinence in Men
So many incontinence related advertisements only show women, but did you know men can suffer from incontinence as well? Whether it is a weak or damaged bladder, nerve damage, or suffering from a prostate condition, men can also have stress, urge, or overflow incontinence. It is more common in older men, though not all men inevitably get it.
There is such a taboo surrounding incontinence in men. The majority of public restrooms for men do not have any private bins to discreetly get rid of any support products. Incontinence in men, while being much less common than women, still occurs. Over 10% of men over the age of 65 experience incontinence. There are multiple tests that can be done with a doctor to diagnose incontinence and provide solutions.
Did you know you can wear WUKA for all your various types of weak bladder issues. The absorbent fabric used in WUKA has a capacity to hold 200 times its own weight in water. WUKA underwear can absorb up to 20 ml of any kind of flow, like your period, postpartum bleeding or stress or urge incontinence. If you are tired of incontinence leaking, then our leak-proof WUKA is for you.