Urinary incontinence occurs when a woman leaks urine accidentally, commonly when coughing or sneezing (stress urinary incontinence), or with the feeling of urgency to void (urge incontinence). It is commonly associated with pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, being overweight or chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
What is a normal bladder function?
According to the Continence Foundation Australia, a normal bladder:
- Empties 4-8 times a day (every 3-4 hours)
- Can hold up to 400-600ml of urine
- May wake you once at night to pass urine, or twice if you are older e.g. over 65 years of age
- Tells you when it is full but gives you enough time to find a toilet
- Empties completely each time you pass urine
- Does not leak urine
How can I prevent incontinence?
- Ensure you have a regular bowel habit to avoid straining your pelvic floor muscles
- Cut down on smoking, caffeinated drinks and alcohol
- Avoid heavy lifting
- Maintain a healthy weight
- See a pelvic floor physiotherapist for pelvic floor strengthening exercises
What can be done if I experience incontinence?
- There are different treatments available, depending on the type of incontinence you experience
- A urodynamics study may be recommended to help assess your bladder function and determine the best treatment for you