The type and severity of incontinence varies from woman to woman. Each individual needs a treatment plan designed especially for them. Incontinence is often worse if you are overweight, have a cough or a urine infection and after the menopause. The doctor may treat these problems first. You may even have more than one type of incontinence that needs treating.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
One of the most common treatments is pelvic floor exercises. These exercises help to improve your bladder control. When done correctly pelvic floor exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that prevent urine from leaking. The more often that you do your exercises the better your control will be.
The pelvic floor muscles stretch like a hammock across the pelvis and help to hold the uterus (womb), bladder and bowel in place. These muscles also act like a control valve around the urethra. They tighten when you do something to raise your abdominal pressure (e.g., coughing) to prevent any urine from leaking. They relax when you want to pass urine.
There are several ways of exercising and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. In the beginning it is often it is better to see a physiotherapist who will teach you how to do the exercises properly. The physiotherapist can see you at intervals to monitor your progress and to suggest different ways of strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Remember: pelvic floor exercises work if you stick at it. You must continue your exercises after your symptoms have improved.
Some women are prescribed tablets or given vaginal creams. If surgery is indicated your doctor will discuss this carefully with you. It is not uncommon to need more than one treatment.
Is my incontinence unhygienic?
Urine is normally sterile and doesn't carry infection, however, if left on the clothes or shin it not only smells unpleasant but irritates the skin as well. Each time you need to change wet pads or clothing wash yourself with a mild soap and warm water. If you wear pads change them regularly, a barrier cream may help to prevent soreness.
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