Lifting the lid on incontinence in Australia

Research shows that more than three quarters of Australians experiencing bladder leakage (Urinary incontinence) prefer to put up with the embarrassing problem than seek professional help, despite the fact most cases can be prevented, cured or better managed.

Figures from the  Continence Foundation of Australia show 76 per cent of people with incontinence (4.8 million adults nationally) have not sought help for the problem from a health professional (including a Women’s health physiotherapist), with more than two thirds (68%) saying they did not consider it a serious health issue, and almost one in five people (19%) too embarrassed to talk about it with anyone, including their GP.

This same survey also found:

  • 43 per cent avoid situations that can lead to leakage, including exercising and sports, lifting things, or visiting places without nearby toilets;
  • Just 2 per cent performed pelvic floor muscle exercises the recommended three times a day;
  • 55 per cent would never discuss bladder and bowel control issues with friends;
  • 12 per cent would prefer to use products such as pads than seek help
  • Incontinence was most prevalent in younger years, with the average age affected 41 years old.

Incontinence is more common than many issues that we regularly seek health professional assistance for.

Former Continence Foundation of Australia chief executive Rowan Cockerell said although incontinence was a common issue, it was disappointing those affected did not think the issue serious enough to seek treatment for, mistakenly considering it a normal part of having a baby or ageing and something you have to put up with.

“People don’t consider it a serious health issue but these same people are restricting their lifestyle to accommodate the problem, avoiding social situations or activities that could result in unwanted leakage.

“It’s time we lifted the lid on this little-discussed issue by encouraging community conversation and raising expectations about better bladder and bowel health outcomes. People need to recognise they have a legitimate health complaint that requires specialised treatment.”

Despite the common myth that incontinence only affects older people, the average age of the survey respondents was 41 years old. A 2011 Access Economics study commissioned by the Continence Foundation found that more than half the women with incontinence are under 50 years old.

It is not unusual. It is not uncommon. But it is also not normal. There is no such thing as LBL – that is a made up term by pad companies to make you buy pads.

The question remains; how is incontinence affecting you? What are you not able to do in your life because of incontinence? Wouldn’t you like to live continent?

Physiotherapy is considered first line treatment for stress incontinence – which is when you leak with laughing, moving, coughing, sneezing. Bladder training (done by an experienced physiotherapist) is considered part of first line training for Urge incontinence – which is when you leak after you get an uncontrollable urge. We can help!

Vital Core Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists will listen to your concerns, take a thorough history of your condition and then undertake a physical examination. This will include an assessment of your pelvic floor muscle condition, strength, endurance and coordination. From this she will work with you to develop a suitable treatment program to help you achieve your goals. You can book an appointment online today.