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Only when I laugh, cough or sneeze!

19 June 2017

Many people leak urine when they laugh, cough or sneeze. This is called stress urinary incontinence and it is sometimes referred to as a weak bladder. Over 2 million people have this problem in the UK. We say it is a common problem, but that it is not 'normal'.

Stress urinary incontinence can affect men and women, although it is more common in women. Some women are affected from a young age, but it often begins around child bearing years and increases with age and hormonal changes. Men can be affected after prostate surgery.

For some women their symptoms happen when they exercise or lift something heavy and for others it can happen with light activity, for example walking or laughing. The good news is that most women with this problem can be helped and many may be cured completely. The pelvic floor is there to help stop leaks from the bladder and bowel, as well as supporting pelvic organs and preventing prolapses. Pelvic floor weakness can be caused by: 

  • pregnancy, hormonal changes and childbirth
  • menopause
  • gynaecological and bladder surgery
  • constipation
  • chronic cough
  • being overweight.

Seeing a specialist physiotherapist can help guide you along the correct treatment path. It is important to be assessed and started on the correct exercise regime for your pelvic floor muscles, as well as addressing lifestyle changes.

We can use a variety of different treatments, including biofeedback (which allows us to see your pelvic floor muscles working in real time) and electrical stimulation (which may be used if your pelvic floor is extremely weak).

Research suggests it can take women up to seven years to tell a professional about their continence issues. Please don’t leave it that long, there is help available!

For more information about our women's health physiotherapy service please contact us.

By Debbie Bernstein, Physiotherapist at Spire Manchester Hospital.

Debbie Bernstein is a womens health physiotherapist at Spire Manchester Hospital.  For more information or to book an appointment with Debbie, please call 0161 447 6900.

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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