INCONTINENCE IN WOMEN
A frequent problem
Urinary Incontinence (UI) or the inability to control the passage of urine (even a few drops) is twice as common in women as in men, and this applies to almost all age groups. The reason is partly the way the organs in the lower abdomen (urinary bladder, urinary passage or urethra, etc.) and even the external opening are structured. More importantly, the female of the human species has to undergo a much greater strain through such events as pregnancy and childbirth. These can result in medium-term or long -term weakness in the muscles of the lower abdomen.
It is not difficult to imagine that when a woman is pregnant, and the unborn child grows in size and weight, the entire process exerts an increasing pressure on the urinary organs such as the bladder. The bladder can hold less than the normal 350-400 ml and feels full sooner than usual.Hence the urge to pass urine would obviously come oftener, and she might have to rush to the toilet as soon as the feeling arises.
Besides, they need to carry a growing baby for the full term of nine months could cause the muscles of the pelvis (the lower part of the abdomen) to become weaker than normal, particularly in someone who has already had two-three children before.
This is because the normal process of childbirth is extremely strenuous for the pelvic muscles, even more so, if the labour has been difficult or prolonged. At times, the obstetrician makes a small incision in the vaginal area to enable the baby to come out through the normal birth passage. This is known as episiotomy, and is often applied to avoid a forceps delivery. Though the incision is repaired and heals in a normal fashion, this takes time, and during the period of healing, the doctor may advice you not to strain for urine. The only solution is to go to the toilet more often.
In women who are compelled to go through this process a number of times, which used to be a common thing in our country, even a generation ago, the pelvic floor muscles never regain their earlier strength. The consequence: an inability to hold their urine.
As women cross the age of 50, and move towards menopause, all their muscles, including those in the lower abdomen, become weaker. It must, however, be emphasized that this is part of the normal process of aging, and has no direct connection with the onset of menopause. Hence the age-related incontinence may actually be seen several years after menopause. But in some of these women, though not all, any severe abdominal strain such as a chronic cough, or a prolonged bout of laughter could result in a few drops trickling on to the clothes.
If that is the case, a perfectly acceptable remedy is an adult diaper, along with special exercises to improve the strength of the abdominal muscles.
The one thing that one should not do in such circumstances is avoid going out or receiving visitors for fear of being embarrassed. For more information on remedies for your problem, click here.
- Postpartum pelvic floor changes: a scientific study by YleniaFonti, Rosalba Giordano, Alessandra Cacciatore and others