Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when urine leaks out of the bladder due to physical activity, coughing, sneezing, or laughing.  It is not confined to leaky old ladies but can occur in men and women, and in the young as well as the old.

Control of the urge to urinate generally occurs before the age of seven. Children older than seven that still suffer from incontinence should see their doctor to rule out any condition that may be causing this.

Deterioration in bladder control, such as stress incontinence, usually occurs in women, particularly after childbirth; but may also occur from chronic coughing from as poorly controlled asthma or smoking, heavy lifting, constipation, obesity, and advancing age, as our muscle control becomes less efficient. It may also arise from surgery to the prostate gland in men.

The bladder can hold up to about 500ml of liquid, and this remains in the bladder until the valve, or sphincter, relaxes and allows the passage of urine at unintended times.

The cause of incontinence should always be determined by your doctor.  This embarrassing condition affects many, and treatment options generally offer good control of urine flow to normalise activities and improve bladder control.

Women with stress incontinence are generally advised to do pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting the bladder. It is advisable for women to undertake these simple exercises at all stages of their life.  Other exercise regimes to strengthen this area include Yoga and Pilates.

Talk to your community pharmacist, they can give you advice on exercises to help relieve this condition, discuss some potential causes, aids and treatments for you, and ensure you are referred to your doctor to seek help to relieve this condition.