According to the statistics, the problem of urinary incontinence may concern almost 4 million of Poles, which is about 10% of the population! Women suffer from this discomfort more often than men. Unfortunately, many people with this problem don't talk about it to anyone because they think it's too embarrassing to mention it.
Some women think it is completely natural, based on the fact that they gave birth or their bodies get older and they just have to cope with it. Indeed, the risk of having this problem increases with age and it's common in the menopause period, as well as during and after pregnancy, however, thinking that nothing can be done about it is wrong.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence occurs when there is an uncontrolled urine excretion. There are different types of this problem, among other: Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), urge incontinence, mixed incontinence, overflow incontinence.
It doesn't have to be a symptom of a disease, but it can be. Things like: congenital anomalies, neurological diseases, pelvis injuries, overweight, pregnancy or delivery, prostatic hypertrophy for men, or changes connected with age may cause it.
In January 2012 TNS, withn the "Core Wellness - inner strength" campaign organised by SCA Hygiene Products, under the patronage of the Polish Association of Urology and the Polish Gynecological Society, research, which visualises the scale of the problem, was done. Here are the results:
- in a group of women over 18 years old - 25% suffer from is urinary incontinence
- in a group of women over 60 years old - 60% suffer from is urinary incontinence
The most common type (with about 60% of cases) is the Stress Urinary Incontinence. Its symptom is lack of control of the urinary bladder during such activities as: laughing, sneezing, coughing or jumping..
Kegel's exercises - strong pelvic floor muscles, better sex
Dr Arnold Kegel in the 1940s designed exercises which strengthened pelvic floor muscles and helped women suffering from urinary incontinence. At the same time, he claimed that apart from improving the comfort, training these muscles may influence sexual experience in a positive way.
These exercises are very simple and effective, there are no contraindicators to do them, they only demand regularity and patience because they need few weeks, or even months, to show some effects. They can be done in almost any situation - during journey, at work, or during washing the dishes. Nobody will notice you're exercising.
Pelvic floor muscles - where are they? Tips for women.
To know how to exercise them, it's important to know where these muscles are. So-called Kegel's muscles are placed outside the pelvis - they surround vagina, urethra and rectum. Many people have problem with tightening them and they use buttocks, thighs and abs muscles unnecessarily to do that.
Let's start with feeling them correctly. Imagine you are urinating and you are trying to clench muscles to stop the flow, try to breathe in a normal way. Do not do this exercise during urinating.
Clench those muscles!
Clench Kegel's muscles few times a day just like you wanted to stop the urine flow. Try to hold the contraction for as long as possible (at first, if the muscles are too weak, it can be a second or two), until you reach 10 seconds. Relax the muscles for as long as the contraction lasted. Don't worry if you feel muscle tiredness after few repetitions. Pelvic floor muscles, just like others, need regular training to strengthen.
According to tena.pl, Kegel's muscles training should take place at least 3-4 times a week, 3 times a day and last for at least 15 minutes.
In the "Core Wellness - inner strength" campaign Pelvicore exercises, which involve not only pelvic floor, but also back and abs, are advised to be introduced. This system was prepared by Kari Bo - the professor of culture and physiotherapy from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo. (You can order a free CD with these exercises from www.corewellness.pl).
Men and urinary incontinence
Although they are in minority, men also have problems with urinary incontinence. Of course, men can also do exercises of the pelvic floor and the therapy will be as effective as in the case of women. To find those muscles, you have to clench the muscles around the rectum, Kegel's muscles will tighten automatically.
Just like in the case of women, these muscles should be trained by clenching, trying to make the time of contraction as long as possible. The stronger the muscles - the longer we will keep them tight, and the more repetitions we are able to do.
Don't be shy. Act!
Although it's not a life-threatening disease, it strongly influences the quality of life of people who suffer from it. Lower self-esteem, inferiority complexes, resigning from social life or exercises and worsening of sexual life, as well as depression can be noticed. That's why it's so important to break the inner inhibitions and talk to the doctor about it.
The experts underline that majority of people with urinary incontinence can be successfully treated. At first it's worth to start with the mentioned exercises strengthening pelvic floor muscles. If they don't bring any effects, there is a possibility of surgical or pharmaceutical treatment.