Incontinence: controlling the flow

It’s a bit of a taboo topic: incontinence.

A lot of people suffer from bladder problems. But because they’re rarely talked about, people with incontinence issues feel like they’re the only ones.

This problem affects men and women. It’s particularly important for women to talk about though, because a lot of them think their only solution is surgery. And if they ask the right questions, they’ll find that’s definitely not the case.

The trouble with a leaky faucet is, it usually gets worse if you don’t fix the problem. But sometimes, the solution can be very simple, says Jennifer Skelly, St Joseph’s self-proclaimed queen of continence.

“There are a lot of younger women who have surgery as a first choice without trying to solve the problem in a more conservative way that might actually solve the problem for them and they may not need the surgery.”

A variety of issues cause bladder problems. Some require surgery, others can be corrected by strengthening the pelvic floor. For example: stress incontinence, which is leaking triggered by jogging or jumping.

“Quite often, if we teach you to do kegel exercises properly, that will strengthen your pelvic floor and that problem will be resolved.”

Kegels have a 75 per cent success rate if they’re done properly.

You have to squeeze your rectum towards your vagina like you’re trying to stop a fart. “Tightening that over a count of three. 1-2-3 and then counting it back down 3-2-1.”

Kegel exercises also work for men. They’re especially important after prostate surgery and if done correctly, can make a difference in just a couple of months.

You should do five sets of ten, every day.

Kegels don’t work for all types of incontinence. Some cases are caused by excess pressure on the bladder from constipation or obesity. Sometimes, frequent urges are simply a result of too much caffeine.

The first step to solving any bladder problem: overcoming the awkwardness, and asking for help. If you’re having bladder trouble, you should talk to a doctor.

There are also several continence clinics in our area.


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