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Incontinence is the accidental loss of control of one's bladder or bowels. It can range in severity from a small leak when you laugh, cough or jump, to completely soiling yourself.  It is very common with urinary incontinence affecting one in three Australian women, and faecal incontinence effecting one in every ten. It can also affect men.



Incontinence most commonly occurs in those who have given birth, been through menopause, are overweight or have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, asthma or arthritis. This is because the muscles used to control your bladder are weakened. Faecal incontinence also occurs in people who have chronic constipation or severe diarrhoea, usually as a result of medications, food intolerances, medical conditions or surgery.



Strengthening your pelvic floor muscle
Your pelvic floor is the layers of muscle that stretch from the tailbone to the pubic bone and support all of your pelvic organs. A strong pelvic floor will give you good control of your bladder and bowel. In contrast, a weak pelvic floor means that your pelvic organs are not well supported which can make it more difficult to control the release of urine or bowel motions.

Like any muscles, you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by exercising them. This is a wise idea for everyone: for those who currently have good control to help prevent incontinence, and for those who are currently experiencing leakage to help reduce your symptoms. To exercise your pelvic floor, start by correctly identifying your pelvic floor muscles, then practice contracting them, then releasing them. Pelvic floor exercises should be undertaken daily.



If you are experiencing incontinence, the first step is to determine the cause. Do you have any medical conditions (eg. diabetes) which need better management? Have you got any food intolerances? Have you got weak bladder or bowel muscles? Start by treating the cause.

If you’re still having problems, it can be a good idea to see a Continence Specialist or physiotherapist to assist in retraining your bladder and/or bowels. Speak to your local Health Care Practitioner for a referral.



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.