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Millions of women plagued by bladder leaks leaving them embarrassed and depressed

TWO thirds of women over 40 are currently suffering from bladder leakage – with many feeling embarrassed and DEPRESSED as a result, a study has found.

Nine in ten sufferers over the age of 40 said the condition, which can be caused by childbirth and often develops as women get older, has had a 'major impact' on their quality of life.

And a tenth said it has even led to depression.

Credit: Getty - Contributor

Despite this, only three in ten have been to see a healthcare professional about the condition.

Three in five have even kept it secret from their partners - or haven’t been 'completely open' with them about the extent of their suffering.

Commissioned by pelvic floor muscle trainer Pelviva, the research of 2,000 women aged 40 and over found the thoughts of 17 per cent of sufferers are 'dominated' by bladder leaks.

Julia Herbert, consultant physiotherapist and clinical director for Pelviva, said: "Bladder leakage is a health issue which affects millions of women of all ages across the UK.

"Pregnancy, childbirth, hormonal changes associated with the menopause and putting on weight are among the many causes of bladder leakage due to weakening pelvic floor muscles.

"These issues are more commonly experienced by older women, but it can just as easily affect someone in their 30s or even younger.

"Despite this high prevalence, bladder leakage is still seen as something of a taboo for women to discuss – they may find it hard to talk with their friends, family or even their partner, which is a perception we’d like to see change."

NHS guide to incontinence

  • Stress incontinence– when urine leaks out at times when your bladder is under pressure; for example, when you cough or laugh
  • Urge incontinence– when urine leaks as you feel a sudden, intense urge to pass urine, or soon afterwards
  • Overflow incontinence (chronic urinary retention) – when you're unable to fully empty your bladder, which causes frequent leaking
  • Total incontinence– when your bladder can't store any urine at all, which causes you to pass urine constantly or have frequent leaking

The research also found one in ten don’t feel they’re able to enjoy life fully as a result of the condition.

Seventy per cent have suffered bladder leakage when they have laughed, coughed or sneezed, while one in three have experienced symptoms when running, jumping or engaging in other physical activities.

To try and combat bladder leakage, 23 per cent of sufferers are careful with how much they drink and 30 per cent always plan toilet stops while travelling.

One third make sure to wear absorbent pads and one in twenty even make effort to wear clothes which hides the fact they may have had 'an accident'.

Bladder leakage is still seen as something of a taboo for women to discuss – they may find it hard to talk with their friends, family or even their partner, which is a perception we’d like to see change

Julia Herbert, consultant physiotherapist and clinical director for Pelviva

It also emerged a quarter said bladder leakage issues make them feel older than they really are.

Further to this, eight in ten suspect more women suffer from bladder leakage than would actually admit it in public.

Of those who have sought out medical help for their condition, 21 per cent went to see their GP and five per cent have seen a gynaecologist.

But 96 per cent of women have heard of pelvic floor exercises, just 10 per cent actually do them regularly.

A fifth of those polled, via OnePoll, said they’re not sure if they know how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly and 23 per cent have attempted them but didn’t notice any improvement.

NHS guide to pelvic floor muscles

  • Squeeze and draw in your back passage as if you're holding in wind.
  • Squeeze around your vagina and bladder tube (urethra) as if you're stopping the flow of urine or squeezing during intercourse.
  • Now relax. This is a short squeeze. Rest for a second, then repeat these squeezes until you feel the muscles get tired.
  • After a short rest, squeeze again as above. This time, hold the squeeze for as long as you can, but no longer than 10 seconds, then relax.
  • It's important to keep breathing normally while you do these exercises. Make sure you don't pull in your stomach or squeeze your buttocks when you squeeze.
  • Aim to build up to 10 repeats of each exercise, four to six times a day.

Dr Donna McVey, medical director at Pelviva, said: "Being told to go away and do your pelvic floor muscle exercises is not helpful as medical evidence shows as many as 50 per cent of women can’t do their own pelvic floor muscle exercises correctly.

"This is through no fault of their own - they simply do not have the connection to the pelvic floor.

Julia Herbert added: "Pelvic floor exercises are a simple but often overlooked treatment for bladder leakage.

"The Pelviva treatment has been designed to train your pelvic floor muscles correctly, and is completely automated and simple to use.

Andrew Tasker, CEO of Femeda Ltd which developed Pelviva, added: "As the research shows, bladder leakage affects millions of women, leaving them to suffer in silence with emotional and psychological issues.

"However, there are ways to reduce the symptoms, helping women to life their lives to the full.

"It’s so important women aren’t burdened with this condition and Pelviva is one way they can stop feeling this way."

​How 44-year-old mum​, Vicki Williams beat ​Stress Urinary Incontinence using 'bladder bulking' procedure

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