Urinary Incontinence in Women

One of the most common problem experienced by women is urinary incontinence. Most will have an episode once in their lives. For some it will become a major problem and can affect their daily and social life.

In Australia up to 40% women have incontinence, with 50% women aged 45 to 59 years being affected. Most do not seek any help. Many believe this is just a natural progression of life. However, this is far from the truth. There are now many methods and treatments available to help women and release them from the ignominy of isolation and embarrassment due to this condition.

There are many types of urinary incontinence and the causes vary. The two main types commonly seen are:

  1. Stress Incontinence
  2. Urge incontinence

Frequently, they coexist. For most women, they have symptoms related to both in varying severity. The symptoms are:

  • Leakage of urine with straining like coughing, sneezing, jumping, running
  • Leakage of urine that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly in the absence of straining
  • Urgency of needing to void
  • Increased frequency of voiding
  • Waking up at night to void

The reasons these occur are many and varied. The most common cause is pregnancy and childbirth, especially vaginal delivery. Others include, prolapse of the bladder or womb, bladder irritation from stones or recurrent infection through to neurological damage e.g. with prolapse discs, spinal cord injury or medical therapy with radiation for cancer and so on. Menopause aggravates the situation due to the loss of hormone production by the ovaries.

Whilst many of the problems develop early following childbearing, they are either not recognised, are transient and easily forgotten in the mayhem of parenthood, or are ignored in the hope that it will improve. As time progresses, the problems worsen and usually are brought to the fore around the menopause.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the problem, cause and type of symptoms encountered. To determine this, investigations are commonly performed including bladder ultrasound and urodynamic studies to the bladder. Easily performed, they provide a great of information about the cause and help point the way to treatment options that can maximise the chance of successful therapy.

Options of treatment include pelvic floor muscle physiotherapy, bladder training strategies, magnetic therapy, medications, nerve stimulation and possibly surgery. Usually a combination of treatments are required to effect the best outcome for the individual.

At the Edward Street Specialist Centre, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to these problems. A team comprising a Gynaecologist, Dr Chester Yeoh together Katherine Baquie and Sarah Duncan a Specialist Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, provide over 50 years of combined experience in dealing with these complex problems. If you have any concerns about your own situation, feel free to call for an appointment to talk to one of our specialist team members.