Woman's Health

“Sixty-five percent of women sitting in a GP’s waiting room have some type of urinary incontinence, yet less than a third of them will seek help”.

Pelvic Floor ExercisesTypes of Incontinence

Incontinence during physical exertion is known as stress incontinence and is the most common reason for urinary incontinence affecting one in three women of all ages. Leakage of urine may occur while coughing, sneezing, running, jumping or playing sport.

Other types of incontinence are urge incontinence where there is a sudden urge to pass urine or mixed incontinence which is a combination of both types.

Risk Factors For Incontinence

  • Pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Being overweight
  • Coughing frequently
  • Surgery

Pelvic FloorWhat Do the Pelvic Floor Muscles Do?

The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus, vagina and bowel. They form a muscular and elastic floor across the bottom of the pelvis. When tightened, the muscles lift the organs and constrict their openings. The muscles relax to empty the bladder and bowel.

Stretching of these muscles during childbirth and straining with constipation sometimes causes muscle damage and leads to incontinence.

Tips To Help Yourself

  • Maintain an adequate fluid intake.
  • Minimise coffee, tea and cola drinks.
  • Stay within a healthy weight range.
  • Seek help for chronic coughs.
  • Avoid straining with constipation.

You Should Seek Help If:

  • You get up more than once a night to go to the toilet
  • You pass small amounts of urine
  • You pass urine frequently (more than 4-6 times a day)
  • You sometimes leak urine when coughing, straining, laughing, playing sport or at other times
  • You restrict your fluid intake
  • You experience sudden urges to find a toilet

Physiotherapy Helps By:

  • Assessing your pelvic floor muscles to see if they are functioning correctly.
  • Teaching you how to exercise your pelvic floor muscles correctly.
  • Retraining your bladder.
  • Teaching you how to maintain control while physically exerting yourself eg. sport, laughing, coughing, lifting.

Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging

This is a new technique available and is used at our practice. The correct function of the pelvic floor muscles can be assessed and retrained using a diagnostic ultrasound machine.

Effectiveness of Physiotherapy

The most comprehensive study ever undertaken in Australia has recently been completed. The trial involved 274 women with stress incontinence aged 23 to 77 years in 35 centres across all Australian states. The women were treated by continence physiotherapists.

Eighty percent of the women were either cured or significantly improved after one year. Only 15 of the women went on to have surgery.

Dr Trish Newman who headed the study reported that about one third of women who are given a brochure about pelvic floor exercises get the basic action wrong and don’t do well on their own with pelvic floor muscle training.