It’s a health issue chortled about among friends, but bladder leakage is no laughing matter.
A new campaign launched by the Continence Foundation of Australia is urging people to see the serious side of bladder leakage.
The campaign comes after a national health survey found 72 per cent of people preferred to laugh about incontinence rather than seeking help, many brushing it off as something that happens with old age or after having children.
Speaking ahead of World Continence Week (June 19-25), Continence Foundation of Australia chief executive Rowan Cockerell said the findings showed women were continuing to ignore their health needs.
"While it’s good that women feel bladder leakage is an issue they can raise with friends, it is alarming to know that they are simply laughing off the problem and not seeking help for what is a very treatable condition," Ms Cockerell said.
"There continues to be a misconception that incontinence is an inevitable result of having children or ageing, and that’s just not true. Incontinence is common, but it’s not normal and should be treated just like any other health condition."
Incontinence is one the nation’s biggest health burdens, affecting 4.8 million adult Australians – a number predicted to reach 6.5 million by 2030. More than half of the women affected by incontinence are under 50 years old.
Can bladder leakage be cured?
What many people don’t realise is that the majority of people affected by incontinence can be cured, or at the very least, better managed.
Pelvic Floor and Continence Physiotherapist, Annabelle Citroen said, "In addition to daily pelvic floor muscle exercises, often it’s just small lifestyle changes, such as drinking enough fluids, eating enough fibre and exercising to maintain a healthy weight."
How to prevent bladder leakage
However, prevention is better than a cure.
"Women of all ages benefit from strong pelvic floor muscles," said Citroen. "Evidence shows pelvic floor muscle exercises can prevent, treat and in many cases cure incontinence.
"The survey findings highlight that while the word is out there in respect to the benefit of these exercises, women are not performing them at a frequency that will produce the desired results."
How often should I perform pelvic floor exercises?
The recommended amount is three sets of exercises daily, with utmost importance placed on correct technique.
The Continence Foundation of Australia’s free National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66) can direct people to their nearest pelvic floor specialist physiotherapist, who can check correct technique and provide a personalised program.
Watch the video below to learn how to do pelvic floor exercises.