It affects five million women in the UK, a quarter of all women over the age of thirty five have experienced it and high-profile celebrities from Helena Bonham Carter to Ulrika Jonsson, to Carol Thatcher, have spoken out about their experiences of it. So why is bladder weakness still considered taboo?
Bladder weakness is the accidental or involuntary leaking of the bladder. It can occur for a number of reasons, including pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, obesity, constipation or nerve damage.
Despite being so common, bladder weakness is a subject that people tend to avoid talking about, including those who suffer. Research has shown that only 46% of adults who suffer from bladder problems talk to their GP about it, and as many as 42% of all women who are incontinent in the UK wait an astonishing fifteen years before seeking treatment.
Janice Rymer, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at King's College London School of Medicine and at Guy's & St Thomas' Hospitals, says: "Those who suffer from bladder weakness are often embarrassed by the condition, and worryingly many women still suffer in silence. It is not until women accept and understand the problem that they are able to take steps to control it."
Janice's top tips to combat bladder weakness:
• Try pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen the muscles
• Try holding on for longer between toilet visits as continually emptying the bladder can reduce the bladder size, meaning it will hold less
• Drink plenty of fluids to avoid urinary infections and ensure the urethra is constantly being flushed out
• Be prepared by carrying a bag of essentials - spare underwear and pads along with some cleansing wipes to help you freshen up on the go.
• Try to maintain a healthy weight as being overweight can put pressure on the bladder
• Eat healthily and avoid alcohol and caffeine in your diet
• Don't suffer in silence! Be sure to visit your GP to discuss treatment options as infection should be ruled out.
Information supplied by www.femfresh.co.uk