Urinary incontinence (the accidental leakage of urine) is a common problem affecting up to 1 in 4 women during their lifetime. It has the potential to impact all spheres of a woman’s life – physical, emotional, sexual and social. Many women simply put up with their symptoms, incorrectly assuming that it is a normal part of ageing and that little can be done to improve or cure the problem.
Urogynaecologist/Pelvic Floor Surgeon, Dr Kris Cvach, shares how the physical aspects of incontinence can be managed or treated and women don’t need to put up with the symptoms and feel apprehensive about being incontinent in a social situation.
There are two main types of incontinence and it is not uncommon for women to experience both types. Stress incontinence is leakage occurring with cough/sneeze/laugh/activity. Urgency incontinence occurs with a sense of urgency which cannot be deferred – women will often describe not getting any warning that their bladder is full, needing to rush to the toilet and often not making it in time. Other women will experience urgency leakage with certain triggers such as hand washing/showering or ‘key in the door’. Incontinence can also occur during sexual intercourse, significantly affecting a women’s sexual life and relationships.
It is important for women to understand that they do not have to put up with their symptoms. Management of incontinence can start with very simple measures such as assessing and managing fluid intake, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and retraining the bladder through pelvic floor physiotherapy and simple medications. When conservative measures fail then other treatment options are available. Incontinence devices and surgery can help manage stress incontinence. Urgency incontinence which persists after first line medication can be treated with other medications, Botox injections into the bladder or a pacemaker for the bladder (neuromodulation).
If you suffer from urinary incontinence, talk to your GP about your problem. In most cases your GP will be able to start you off on the initial management pathway. Referral to a urogynaecologist or urologist may be appropriate if incontinence persists.
Dr. Kris Cvach is a highly qualified and experienced urogynaecologist and general gynaecologist who works at MCOGA, a female group practice associated with St Vincent’s Private Fitzroy. Kris provides expert care for women with female pelvic floor dysfunction.
Location: Suite 5 Level 5 55 Victoria Parade Fitzroy 3065