Thu 21, Aug 2014
Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week is coming up September 1 – 5, and women are being asked to “learn more and take action about their health” as first steps to becoming a more confident person.
We at the Continence Foundation of Australia echo this message.
Even though incontinence issues seem, on the surface, to be purely physical, we know the repercussions go much deeper, potentially impacting a person’s social and work life, as well as their mental health.
Recent research from the University of Adelaide (published in BMC Urology in February, 2013) revealed that 20 per cent of the incontinent population (predominantly women) had depression, with younger women more likely to be affected than older women.
Author of the study Jodie Avery said the key issues for younger women were family, sexual relationships, sport and leisure activities. Women with both incontinence and depression, not surprisingly, scored lower in all areas of quality of life.
A key message from the Continence Foundation is that incontinence is, in the majority of cases, preventable and treatable. While incontinence can affect people of any age, women aged 25 – 55 years and men over the age of 50 are most at risk.
Becoming confident that you can have a full and physical life - that you won’t put your partner off because you smell of urine, that you can get through the workday without fear of rushing off to the toilet - is achievable for most women by adopting a few preventative measures.
1. Avoid activities that stretch your pelvic floor or force you to push down on it. So avoid heavy lifting, high impact sports, straining on the toilet as the result of constipation, or gaining excessive weight.
2. Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by doing your pelvic floor exercises every day. These muscles, like any other muscles in the body, can be made stronger with regular exercise.
3. Become informed and take action. Go to pelvicfloorfirst.org.au and learn how to exercise while keeping your pelvic floor safe. Download the Pelvic Floor First or the Pelvic floor awareness in pregnancy smart phone apps. Visit continence.org.au and check out their range of fact sheets, videos and free resources.
Sometimes conservative measures like these aren’t enough, and anyone with incontinence issues can phone the free National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66), which is staffed by continence health nurses who can provide advice, information and referrals.
And don’t forget to get involved with Women’s Health Week:
If you’re in Melbourne, be part of the kick-off at Fed Square on Monday 1 September from 7am