IS URINARY INCONTINENCE A NORMAL PART OF AGING?
Many women in our community believe that their inability to control urination is a normal part of aging and some of them are reluctant to discuss it because they thought it is a normal thing to happen as they grow older. Most women would end up with coping mechanism such as reducing water intake, which causes unnecessary dehydration of the body.
So, is it true that urine leakage is a normal occurrence as we women age?
Today, let’s seek to understand the causes of urine leakage, medically known as urinary incontinence (“UI”) and see whether it is a normal part of aging (hint: it isn’t). At the end of the article, we will explore some ways we can use to regain bladder control if we suffer from urine leakage.
The main cause of urine leakage is due to weak pelvic floor muscles (“PFM”). Do you know about this muscle? This thin muscle is located at the base of your pelvis and plays a big role in supporting our bladder, uterus and rectum. Here are several reasons that can weaken our PFM and also contribute to UI.
Pregnancy and childbirth
Evidence suggests that problems can start during pregnancy, not just after childbirth. Women who have had multiple births, instrumental births (with forceps or ventouse), severe perineal tearing or large babies (birth weight over 4kg) are at greater risk of pelvic floor muscle damage.
Straining on the toilet
Chronic or repeated straining on the toilet (associated with constipation) can lead to pelvic floor weakness and/or prolapse of the organs into the vagina.
An ongoing cough for any reason (for example, asthma, bronchitis or a smoker’s cough) increases the risk of urinary incontinence and prolapse due to increased pressure and pushing downwards of our pelvic floor.
Heavy lifting can create high pressure on the pelvic floor and ultimately leads to prolapse. Carrying baby and heavy groceries some of the daily heavy lifting activities.
High impact exercise
Participating in high impact sports such as basketball, netball or running can mean an increased risk of leaking urine. Marathon runners and untrained joggers may be impacting their pelvic floor muscles if they are not aware of the proper ways to run.
Pelvic floor muscles tend to get weaker with increasing age. As our oestrogen hormone level reduce, the muscle loses its strength and elasticity which causes higher chances or accelerates the process of developing prolapse and urine leaking.
Being overweight increases the risk of leaking urine and may place greater strain on the pelvic floor, because our pelvic floor muscles are only a group of thin muscles.
From the above reasons, we can see that many factors can cause UI.
While it is true that several physiological changes may happen as part of growing older (as our PFM get thinner, weaker and less resilient), pelvic floor dysfunction arising from aging can be corrected to counter and prevent urine leakage.
It is also not necessary for women to suffer urine leakage while aging. In truth, women of all ages can experience urine leakage if we do not take care of our pelvic floor.
The best way to keeping our pelvic floor muscle strong and healthy is through accurate pelvic muscle training. The Kegel exercise is one of the best conservative methods to prevent urinary incontinence. When done correctly, regular pelvic muscle training can be extremely effective in strengthening the pelvic floor muscle thus improving our bladder control.
You can further improve the strength of your pelvic floor and reduce symptoms of pelvic floor weakness in many ways, including losing excess body fat and preventing constipation by including more fruit, vegetables, fibre and water in your daily diet.
Last but not least, do consult our qualified Women’s Health Physiotherapist for help to regain your PFM strength and improve your bladder control.
UI isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom due to weak PFM. If you are experiencing this problem, don’t be ashamed and embarrassed. Vibrance Pelvic Care Centre is equipped to guide you and assist you in restoring your optimal pelvic health. Book an appointment today!
Vibrance Women’s Health Physiotherapist
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