YEP Crew Supporter Blog Post – Minna Baker: What is Incontinence?

For many Australians, going to the bathroom isn’t a big deal. When you get the urge to do a wee or a poo you can easily hold it until you have access to a bathroom. But many Australian women face a different reality and struggle with incontinence. Due to stigma around incontinence, some people who suffer from it feel too embarrassed to seek professional help and suffer in silence. But incontinence is common and treatable.

There are two types of incontinence that are most common in women.

1. Stress Incontinence.

Stress incontinence is most common in women who have given birth and older women. It is caused by weak or under-active pelvic floor muscles. With stress incontinence, a small amount of urine may be involuntarily passed when laughing, sneezing, coughing or doing any movement that causes the abdominal muscles to contract. Stress incontinence can be effectively treated by a woman’s health physio and or through medication.

2. Urge Incontinence.

This kind of incontinence is most common in young women who have not been sexually active. It is caused by overactive pelvic muscles and often an overactive and oversensitive bladder. It is characterised by a sudden urgent need to urinate, and involuntarily passing urine if not reaching to toilet ‘in time’. Women who struggle with stress incontinence find that they may pass a larger amount of urine involuntarily than women who suffer from stress incontinence do. Urge incontinence can be effectively treated by a woman’s health physio and or medication.

Sometimes incontinence or urinary urgency can also be caused by a UTI. A UTI is a bacterial infection in the urethra, the most common symptoms are:

– Frequency. Needing to urinate very frequently and often passing only a very small amount of urine.

– Urgency. Feeling a sudden urge to wee to the point that it feels like you may wet your pants.

– Incontinence. Some people may find that the urgency is so severe that they pass urine involuntarily.

– A painful burning sensation while urinating. It sort of feels like you are passing acid.

– Discoloured urine.

– Odorous urine.

UTIs are easily treatable with antibiotics and can be confirmed with a simple urine test. If you have the symptoms of a UTI, see your doctor as soon as possible. UTIs can become more serious, such as becoming a kidney infection.

Incontinence often caused feelings of embarrassment, shame and may even discourage people who suffer from it from leaving the house and living and enjoying a full life. Incontinence isn’t something that you need to suffer in silence about. There is help and treatment readily available. If you are struggling with incontinence of any kind, speak with your doctor about available treatments.

For more information and help, see Continence.org.au or call their free helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

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Jesse Altham

Hey! My name is Jesse and I’m a 23 year old from Fremantle, WA. I’m finishing up my Diploma of Youth Work with North Metro TAFE, completing my last practical placement here with the YEP crew. I am extremely passionate about politics, advocacy and education and I’m so fortunate to be working with YEP in the space of peer education.

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