Among the many unglamorous after-effects of pregnancy and childbirth, stress incontinence has to be up there with the worst of them. Whether you’ve leaked while laughing at your friend’s joke, or had a close call while bouncing around with your tot on a trampoline, you’re certainly not alone. Stress incontinence is thought to affect millions of women around the world. Kate Winslet and Kris Jenner are just two celebs who have talked openly about how the condition affects their daily lives. The good news is that there’s lots you can do to manage it.
“Also known as light incontinence, leaking can occur when you sneeze, cough, laugh, jog, or do other things that put pressure on your bladder. It is the most common type of bladder-control problem in women and can be caused by weak muscles in the lower urinary tract due to pregnancy or post-pregnancy changes, childbirth and pelvic surgeries, such as having a C-section,” says Dr Ahlam BuSaber, who was the first female Emirati urologist.
“Don’t be embarrassed to talk to a urology specialist if your symptoms interfere with everyday activities such as work, hobbies and your social life, as there are some easy ways you can improve the situation. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol can help, as can bladder training, where you learn ways to help you wait longer between needing to urinate and passing urine. Pelvic-floor exercises, such as the Kegel exercises, can also be effective at helping to strengthen your pelvic muscles.”
Here’s how to get started….
How to practise your Kegel exercises
• Squeeze the same muscles you would use to stop your flow of urine. Your tummy and thighs should not move.
• Hold the squeeze for three seconds, then relax for three seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times.
• Once you’ve mastered this, add a second to the squeeze each week until you are able to squeeze for a total of 10 seconds at time.
• Aim to do three sets of Kegel exercises every day.
Dr Ahlam BuSaber is based at the Urology Clinic, Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah. She is supporting the TENA Lady Incontinence Awareness Campaign “Let You Be You”.