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Keep stress incontinence in its place

You never know when it might strike. You might be laughing at a good joke, moving some furniture or sneezing in a flower shop. Stress urinary incontinence is particularly worrying due to its unpredictable nature. But we can do something about it and reduce the chances of having a ‘moment’ when we’re trying to enjoy our lives.

Blonde lady smiling

What is stress incontinence?

Stress urinary incontinence doesn’t have anything to do with your mental state. Instead it’s the unintentional loss of urine particularly during certain activities that can include:

● Coughing or sneezing

● Laughing

● Bending over

● Lifting something heavy

● Exercising

So why does it happen? The causes of stress urinary incontinence vary, but are most commonly associated with pregnancy and childbirth. However, this isn’t inevitable and won’t happen to every woman having a baby.

There are other factors that can also make the condition worse, such as obesity, smoking and regular high-impact activities over a long period of time. In short, it can strike any woman at any age.


What can I do about it?

Obviously avoiding laughter or sneezes is not an option. However, there are various ways to manage the condition that can make a real difference.

Pelvic floor muscle exercises 

These are also called Kegel exercises. They’re simple to do and only take up a few minutes of your day. There is lots of information online about how to do these exercises, or you can consult your GP. The level of benefit you get from Kegels depends on how frequently you perform them.

Control fluid intake

Speak to your doctor about an ideal intake of fluid for your condition. While you may want to cut down on fluid consumption, you don’t want to become dehydrated, which is why getting the balance right is so crucial.

Making lifestyle changes

Smoking, drinking and an unhealthy diet can all increase symptoms. By addressing all of these, you will reduce your risk of continuing problems and also improve your general health at the same time.

Medication

If a urinary tract infection is part of the issue, antibiotics should be able to address this. However, this is not a complete cure and you may have to try some of the other options to minimise the problem you face.

Surgery

For more extreme conditions, surgical options are available, such as a sling procedure, which can either relieve pressure on the bladder or strengthen muscles in the urethra. Once again, talk to your doctor about this possible way forward.


You can manage this

We should never let stress urinary incontinence spoil our lives. Think prevention as well as cure. Stay fit, reduce or cut out alcohol and cigarettes, and continue with your pelvic floor exercises. Yes, it’s a problem but it’s a problem we can do something about.