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Does your bladder or bowel sometimes leak when you laugh, sneeze, cough, jump or exercise? Do you often get nervous because you might lose control of your bladder or bowel? Do you wake up twice or more during the night to go to the toilet? Do you plan your daily routine around where the nearest toilet is?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a bowel or bladder problem. This may be confronting, but you’re not alone, as an estimated one in four people experience continence issues.
Our Continence Nurse Advisor, Patricia Cronin, has broken the basics down for you, including what you can do to improve, manage and even cure your toilet habits.
Incontinence is the medical term for accidental leakage of the bladder or bowel. Continence problems include needing to go to the toilet urgently and frequently, straining when we do or feeling like we haven’t emptied our bladder or bowels completely.
Many people think bowel and bladder problems are a normal part of ageing or recovery after giving birth. They might be common, but are certainly not normal. Luckily, you can still lead a high quality and social life.
If you experience incontinence and continence problems, your bladder or bowels are telling you that something’s not quite right. Pelvic floor muscle weakness, nerve damage or other health problems might be the cause.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:
You might feel a bit embarrassed or reluctant to talk about it, but it’s important to speak to your doctor so you can get to the bottom of the problem and sort it out.
Healthy habits can help you avoid incontinence and continence problems, and manage or cure current issues.
Your GP or health professional can formulate an individualised incontinence management plan for you. More generally though, leading a healthy lifestyle and getting your pelvic floor workout in each day can do you and your bowels/bladder a lot of good.
Call the free National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 for confidential information, local referrals and resources.
Visit continence.org.au for more information, flyers, brochures and fact sheets to help you regain control.
If you are concerned about your pelvic floor, bowel or bladder, speak to your GP, pelvic physiotherapist or continence specialist.