IS 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.

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.

Chronic coughing
An ongoing cough for any reason (for example, asthma, bronchitis or a smoker’s cough) increases the risk of urinary incontinence and prolapse.

Heavy lifting
Heavy lifting can create pressure on the pelvic floor and ultimately lead to prolapse.

High impact exercise
Participating in high impact sports such as basketball, netball or running can mean an increased risk of leaking urine.

Age
Pelvic floor muscles tend to get weaker with increasing age. As the oestrogen hormone level is reduce, the muscle loses its strength and elasticity causes higher chances of developing prolapse and leaking.

Obesity
Being overweight increases the risk of leaking urine and may place greater strain on the pelvic floor.

From the above reasons, we can see that many factors can influence 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. Hence it is not necessary to suffer urine leakage while aging. Yeah, in truth, women of all ages can experience urine leakage.

The 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. Free Consultation is available, book an appointment today!

Written by:
Hanee
Vibrance Women’s Health Physiotherapist

Article resources:

Helen AC, R. Mimi Secor (2015), Advanced Health Assessment of Women, Third Edition. 978-0-8261-2309-1

Rebecca J (2011), Incontinence: young women leak too, ABC health wealth being. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/stories/2011/11/17/3367126.html

American Medical Systems, Urinary incontinence. Retrieved from //www.americanmedicalsystems.com/womens_conditions_detail_objectname_womens_urin_incont.html

Incontinence: A Woman’s Little Secret. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/features/incontinence-womans-little-secret#2

Can You Have Overactive Bladder at a Young Age? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/overactive-bladder-young-age

Common problems with pelvic floor muscles. Retrieved from

https://www.continence.org.au/pages/what-can-happen-to-the-pelvic-floor-muscles.html

 

 

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