We have seen the advertisements on TV with women giggling when they leak urine when they cough, laugh, sneeze, walk, run or play sport. This is called stress incontinence and really it's not very funny.
More than 1 in 4 women at some stage of their life have poor bladder control with symptoms such as leaking with coughing and sneezing. These symptoms can be treated effectively by learning how to switch your pelvic floor on properly and strengthening it.
However, learning to activate your pelvic floor muscles can be tricky with 51% of women unable to exercise their pelvic floor muscles when asked (Bump et al 1991). Belinda can assess whether you are switching on your pelvic floor correctly using non invasive ultrasound imaging and internal examination and then set a program for you to help you learn what good pelvic floor exercise really means.
Urge incontinence and the over-active bladder
Poor bladder control can also have women rushing to the toilet more than 4 to 6 times per day and getting up to urinate more than 2 times per night. This is called urge incontinence and involves those "eye watering" moments when you must find a toilet to urinate urgently, or wet yourself. Some women feel they need to urinate often with short trips between each visits, this is called an over-active bladder. If you find yourself needing a mental map of all the toilets in the shopping centre then you canretrain your bladder.
Pelvic organ prolapse
Inside a women's pelvis are the bladder, uterus and rectum (back passage) which are held in place via tissues called "fascia" and "ligaments". The pelvic floor muscles also provide a sling-support to hold the organs in. If there is a stretching, tearing or weakening of the fascia tissue or pelvic floor muscles the pelvic organs may bulge down into the vagina. This is called a prolapse.
This sometimes presents itself as poor bladder control where women have difficulty emptying their bladder or have a weak urine stream. Other early signs of a prolapse are pain on insertion of a tampon, a feeling of internal heaviness or a dragging sensation in the vagina. For some women they may notice a lump in their vagina or have trouble emptying their bowel or have recurring urinary tract infections. This may be due to a prolapse of the pelvic organs into the vagina. Belinda will work with you and Dr Pat to manage your treatment which may include surgery.