This week is World Continence Week (20-26th June) which aims to raise awareness about bladder and bowel continence and continence related issues. It is a commonly misunderstood area of health, with many myths surrounding what it is, who it affects and how it affects people. Let’s look at some of the more common myths around continence.
Myth 1: Incontinence is a normal and inevitable part of ageing
Despite many older people, especially women, reporting bladder and bowel incontinence, these issues are not inevitable, and in fact, can be very successfully managed or resolved with the careful assessment, management & treatment. Changes in our bodies as we age do make us more susceptible to continence issue down the track, however that does not mean that it is a normal and acceptable part of ageing.
Myth 2: Only women have urinary incontinence
While there is a higher percentage of women who experience urinary incontinence, approximately 38%, urinary incontinence affects around 10% of Australian men as well. This can be due to prostate surgery, enlargement of the prostate, or prostate cancer. Bowel incontinence also affects both men and women, with around 6% of men and 10% of women reporting some degree of bowel incontinence.
Myth 3: Incontinence is normal after childbirth, and I should just accept it
In some cases, yes, incontinence of the bowel or bladder can be caused by childbirth, or the interventions involved in delivery of a baby. However, there are a significant number of women who suffer from incontinence who have never been pregnant or given birth. Needing to brace or cross your legs to sneeze, cough or laugh, or not being able to jump or play with your children after childbirth is common but should not be considered normal and a ‘just part of life’. There are many ways in which we can reverse post-natal incontinence that don’t involve invasive treatments or surgery, and simply work on strengthening muscles and retraining our bladders to gain more control and quality of life.
Myth 4: Once you have incontinence, you have it for life
Absolutely incorrect! There are many strategies that Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapists have at their disposal that can help manage, reduce, or even eliminate incontinence that are safe, simple and evidence based. That is why it is so important that anyone experiencing issues with continence, no matter how large or small, reach out to their GP, local Continence Service or Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapists locally to work on solutions.
Regardless of your age, gender, stage of life or activity level, any changes to continence, whether it be bowel or bladder, should be discussed with your primary healthcare provider, GP, or Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapist. Often, there is a simple and manageable cause for these issues, however without discussion, these issues often linger far longer than they need to, impacting your quality of life. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re feeling like something has changed or you are needing advice and treatment to best manage your symptoms.
The Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapists at Enhance Physiotherapy can assist you in managing new and old continence symptoms with evidence based, personalised treatments to give you back your quality of life.