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1 in 3 Kiwi women suffer from a leaky bladder

Media release
Return to Form
June 2014

World Continence Week: 1 in 3 Kiwi women suffer from a leaky bladder

Look out leaky homes! As World Continence Week gets underway from 23 - 29 June 2014, an Auckland-based physiotherapist says it's time for New Zealand women to tackle their own leaky bladder issues head on.

The Undie Numbers:

- 1.1 million New Zealanders suffer with incontinence (that’s 25% of the population)
- Incontinence costs the health system over $8b each year, in productivity, health costs, and informal career costs

Zee Sharif, owner and head therapist at Return to Form Physiotherapy (a specialist 'below the belt' practice) says the one in every three Kiwi women living with weak bladders don't have to accept leaks and pains as their lot in life:

“The theme of World Continence Week this year is Pelvic Floor Exercise in Pregnancy, Childbirth and Beyond which creates a fantastic opportunity to speak about this important health issue. To be honest I have seen far too many women put up with leaks, pains, and embarrassment because of bladder and bowel issues. Buying pads and liners doesn't address the underlying causes, it just hides the symptoms.”

“Women are more affected by bladder issues that men, and it's something that women young, old and everywhere in between grapple with. Symptoms can range from a little bit of leakage, to the constant need to go to the bathroom, pain, and constant discomfort. Sound familiar? Too many women are just stocking up on thick panty liners and Tena and hoping for the best.”

Sex, love and…leaks?

“Continence issues can also affect your sex life - and yet again, it’s a problem that goes unmentioned for the most part. Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to poor pelvic floor muscle tone, which in turn affects intimacy for both partners. It can be hard enough for women to get back into intimacy after baby is born, but when continence issues are ignored your love life can really take a hit.”

Sharif says the most common forms of incontinence for women are:
- Increased frequency of urination
- Urge incontinence (sudden and uncontrollable desire to go to the toilet and / or leaking before you can get to the toilet)
- Stress incontinence (leaking associated with activity, change of position, coughing, sneezing)

Sharif says that urine leakage during workouts is a common but unmentioned occurrence: “Most of us have been going hard at the gym or during a run and get a little leak - it's more common than anyone thinks, and yet because of the taboo nature of 'peeing your pants', no one talks about, yet alone seeks help.”

“The answer to a leaky bladder isn't to drink less water, or wear pads when you work out or avoid certain exercises and it's certainly not just a case of doing more Kegel's. With simple exercises, techniques and tools, women can regain control of their bladders, start enjoying sex again, without resorting to bulky panty liners and awkward shopping purchases.”

Sharif says her top tips for women who have got leaky bladders or little niggles that get in the way of your love life are simple:

- Practice exercises: my favourite suggestion is to pick a colour, and then every time you see that colour tense your pelvic muscles, repeating six times. You will notice a difference after just a few weeks.
- Get some strengthening balls (which aren't as bad as they sound)
- Talk about it! One in three women have leaky bladder issues, and most women who have had babies experience leaks too, so discuss it with your girlfriends, partners and health care professionals, because no woman should have to put up with wet pants or uncomfortable liners.

© Scoop Media

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