I tear pages out of magazines in waiting rooms. And it’s not because they are articles about how to look 30 when you’re 55 or the latest on Angelina or even 101 recipes with quinoa.
I rip out advertisements about continence pads for ‘Light Bladder Leakage’ or ‘LBL’!
You know the ones: ‘It’s okay women – leaking is fine – just wear a pad’. And the models in these ads have been getting younger and sexier - no longer is it only the ‘senior’ looking lady! Now it’s younger women in tight dresses. Disclaimer: I have nothing against continence aids. It’s the normalisation of incontinence that makes my blood pressure rise.
Have you noticed how subtly in the feminine hygiene aisles at the supermarkets, products progress from tampons and menstrual pads to continence pads? LBL is being used to normalise a very real problem.
Here is my advertisement: leaking urine is never fine, never okay, never normal. It is a sign that something is not quite working to its full potential in the pelvic area of the body. That wonderful hidden part that contributes so much to our quality of life. It is often a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction.
As a physiotherapist with a special interest in pelvic health, I care a great deal about those bits ‘down there’ and their impact on women’s health.
How should a normal bladder behave?
Well we should have the ability to control the functions of our bladder and bowel throughout all stages of life. This is continence. Incontinence is any loss of bladder and bowel control, irrespective of amount or frequency.
Here is a breakdown of the facts: normal bladders should hold approximately 500 mls. Each emptying of the bladder is 350-700 mls of urine. We wee four to seven times a day and may wake to go once at night.
Going to the toilet should not be urgent – rushing off, feeling you can’t hold on – nor frequent (going to the toilet more often than outlined above). The bladder should fully empty with a strong, continuous stream and no strain. And there should no urinary leakage. Yes, that’s right, you should be able to jump on the trampoline with the kids!
Your bladder should be functioning efficiently in the background. So if you have read the above paragraph and can’t recognise your bladder, you may have a problem.
What should you do?
Well consulting with a physiotherapist experienced in pelvic health is a great starting point. This involves detailed history taking and assessment of what exactly is happening for you. Treatment is based on your individual needs and may take three to four appointments over several months. And there is good research to prove it works!
Now, while I’m not advocating carte blanche magazine destruction I am suggesting that next time you are in a waiting room, spend some time thinking about your bits ‘down there’.
About the Author
Bronwyn has a positive approach to pelvic health concerns and is passionate about getting the message out that these issues can be treated effectively and people should not have to suffer in silence.
She provides management for bladder issues: stress and urgency incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, bowel issues: constipation, urgency and incontinence ,sexual dysfunction and pelvic pain, guidance for pelvic floor safe exercising, problems during pregnancy and after childbirth, advice before and rehabilitation after gynaecological and other pelvic surgery including for the bowel.Bronwyn works in her own private practice at Chermside - www.bronwynjestphysiotherapy.com.au
When not working, she enjoys exercising, reading, music, admiring (and collecting!) pottery, swimming at the beach and spending time with her husband Martin and three adult offspring.