Urinary Incontinence, also commonly referred to as bladder weakness or urinary leakage, is a loss of voluntary control over urination.
How common is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary Incontinence is a common condition affecting 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men in the UK. The NHS estimates that between 3 and 6 million British individuals will have Urinary Incontinence to some degree1. This makes incontinence more common than hay fever! And whilst incontinence may be common, it's not normal and shouldn't be ignored.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are three main types of Urinary Incontinence - Stress Incontinence, Urge Incontinence and Mixed Incontinence. It's important to understand what type of incontinence you may be suffering with, as each type of incontinence can be treated slightly differently.
Stress Incontinence is the term used when leaks involuntarily occur as a result of coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping, heavy lifting or other movements that put pressure on the bladder. Being overweight or undertaking high impact exercise can also be a trigger, as the term 'stress' relates to the physical strain associated with the leakage. Stress Incontinence is the most common type of female bladder weakness.
Urge Incontinence, also known as frequent urination or overactive bladder, is used when there is a sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate, often with little warning. Symptoms of Urge Incontinence include needing to urinate often, even during the night. People with Urge Incontinence will often find it difficult to reach the toilet in time.
'Latch key' urgency is commonly experienced in people with poor bladder control and refers to the immediate and urgent need to go to the toilet as soon as the key is put in the door when you get home, often resulting in leakage.
Mixed Incontinence is referred to when a person suffers from both types of Urinary Incontinence (Stress and Urge) at the same time. One type is usually more pronounced than the other, and it is advised that the more severe type be treated first.
Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence will depend on the type of incontinence being experienced.
- Stress Incontinence symptoms: consistently leaking urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, lift or do exercise
- Urge Incontinence symptoms: constant and urgent need to wee, and it is keeping you up at night
- Mixed Incontinence symptoms: will be a combination of the above
What causes Urinary Incontinence?
A weak pelvic floor is usually the primary cause of Urinary Incontinence, but what can cause the pelvic floor to become weak in the first place?
In women, the most typical causes of pelvic floor weakness include pregnancy & childbirth, and the menopause. In men, the most common cause of Urinary Incontinence is radical prostatectomy surgery.
However, these are not the only causes. Other things that may weaken the pelvic floor muscles resulting in Urinary Incontinence include:
- Obesity: being overweight puts more pressure on your internal organs, including the pelvic floor. Losing excess weight may help to alleviate symptoms
- High impact exercise: jogging, running, horse-riding, weight lifting and other high-intensity activities often result in pelvic floor weakness because the connective tissue that supports the bladder becomes weakened due to additional pressure and strain.
- Chronic coughing: persistent coughing can damage and overstretch the pelvic floor muscles, which over time can result in pelvic floor weakness.
- Straining when opening your bowels: The pushing down movement when you strain to open your bowels can actually put pressure on the pelvic floor and make it weaker over time.
Incontinence Treatment Options
By strengthening and re-educating the pelvic floor muscles, you can treat the root cause of Urinary Incontinence and say goodbye to leaks for the long term. Many people choose to manage the symptoms of Urinary Incontinence by using absorbent pads and pants, however, these are costly over a lifetime, uncomfortable and do nothing to solve the problem.
You can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and regain bladder control in the following ways:
Manual pelvic floor exercises
Manual pelvic floor exercises require you to lift and release the pelvic floor muscles yourself. You can do this by tightening the muscles (as though you're holding in a wee) until you feel an internal lifting sensation. Hold the lift for 10 seconds and then slowly relax and release. These can be tricky to master, especially if your pelvic floor is very weak. Our Invisible Workouts can guide you through the process.
Biofeedback probe device
A biofeedback probe device is generally used to help you locate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. They are commonly connected to an app or other system which shows how much pressure the pelvic floor muscle is exerting onto the probe when contracting the pelvic floor. You insert the device vaginally, then contract the pelvic floor muscles down on to the device which then feeds back data about pelvic floor strength into a connected app or other systems.
Probe-based pelvic floor exerciser
These devices deliver Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) to the pelvic floor muscle using a probe inserted into the vagina or anus. They stimulate the pelvic floor resulting in a muscle contraction which aims to regenerate the muscles over continued use.
INNOVO pelvic floor exerciser
INNOVO is a clinically proven, truly non-invasive and long-lasting solution to Urinary Incontinence. Easy to use and comfortable to wear, INNOVO helps you safely and effortlessly strengthen and re-educate the entire network of pelvic floor muscles through gentle muscle stimulation.
Using INNOVO for just 30 minutes a day/five days a week over 12 weeks has been proven to treat bladder weakness - delivering results in as little as 4 weeks2.
INNOVO treats stress, urge and mixed incontinence in women and men of all ages, and is the only non-invasive pelvic floor exerciser that targets the root cause of the problem.
- 80% of users saw a significant reduction in leaks after just 4 weeks2
- 87% of users were defined as either dry or almost dry after 12 weeks3
- 90% of users would recommend the therapy to others4
2 Soeder S, et al, A randomised, controlled, double-blind, clinical study to compare two neuromuscular stimulator devices in female stress urinary incontinence: Effects on symptoms and quality of life. IUGA Conference 2018
3 R. Dmochowski – Novel external electrical muscle stimulation device for the treatment of female stress urinary incontinence: randomized controlled noninferiority trial versus intravaginal electrical stimulation. ICS Conference 2018
4 Observational study on the treatment of stress urinary incontinence with Innovotherapy, April 2014