Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common condition which is often left untreated. Its estimated prevalence varies depending on the population studied, time period (e.g. daily/weekly) and the means used to measure it. It is believed that it affects around 50% of elderly women and 3% to 11% of elderly men, but only 25% to 61% of women affected look for treatment. This may be because they’re too embarrassed, they don’t know enough about treatments available or because they assume it’s just a normal part of the ageing process.
Urinary incontinence is a worldwide phenomenon which affects both men and women across cultures and ethnicities. As mentioned above, it is difficult to ascertain its prevalence worldwide due to variation in definitions used, populations studied, types of study, the percentage of respondents, age, gender, the availability and effectiveness of healthcare and other factors.
The pelvic floor is made up of muscles, connections and fascial structures working together to maintain the pelvic organs and provide compressive force to the urethra during increased intra-abdominal pressure.
The pelvic floor muscles are part of the pelvic floor’s muscle layer, including the anus, the anal sphincter, ischiocavernosus muscle and bulbospongiosus muscle.
The urethra, vagina and rectum pass through the pelvic floor and are surrounded by pelvic floor muscles. During increased intra-abdominal pressure, the pelvic floor muscles contract to maintain support. When the pelvic floor muscles shrink, the urethra anus and vagina close. The contraction is important in preventing involuntary loss of urine or rectal content. The pelvic floor muscles also relax in order to release.
Physiotherapy identifies the main cause of the problem and helps in selecting the right treatment methods. The treatment used depends largely on issues identified during your first consultation.