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Erica Lewis, Women’s Health Physiotherapist, kindly shares with us her top 5 tips for dealing with urgency urinary incontinence.

Erica has specialised in the area of Women’s Health Physiotherapy for the last 15 years both in the NHS and privately. She now runs Hertfordshire Women’s Health.

We recommend many of our clients see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist like Erica if they are suffering with urgency urinary incontinence at any stage in their life.  Although this is very common it is not normal and not something you have to live with,  There is help out there.  The benefit of seeing a Women’s Health Physio to your Pilates practice is huge as it enables Angela to get specific guidance on how your core and pelvic floor are functioning and with the support of specialist input it enables you to get the most out of your Pilates classes.

Erica Lewis, Women's Health Physiotherapist

If you are suffering with Urgency Incontinence, you are likely experiencing some of the following symptoms;

  • Urinary urgency (needing to wee but feeling you are not going to make it in time)
  • Urinary urgency incontinence (not making it in time – leaking associated with a desire to pass urine)
  • Urinary frequency (going to pass urine more than 4-7 times a day) or that many times that it is affecting your life
  • Possibly nocturia (getting up at night time to pass urine)

You may be scared to go on a long journey in the car or always on the lookout for a toilet. You may know where every toilet is in town. You may restrict how many drinks you have to minimise the risk of needing a wee.

These are all signs of urgency incontinence. Many of these symptoms are also signs of a urine infection, particularly if they are new or have worsened suddenly. Therefore, it is always worth first ruling out an infection by seeing your GP or Nurse for a urine dipstick test. Once you know it is not an infection, the following tips might help!

  1. Drink the right stuff! This means reduce the amount of caffeine you have (do this slowly if you drink a lot of caffeine). Replace tea, coffee, hot chocolate, coke etc with decaffeinated versions where they exist. Try to reduce carbonated drinks, including fizzy water. Limit citrus fruit juices. Reduce alcohol intake. All these things can irritate the bladder lining and lead to an increase in bladder contractions/desire to wee.
  2. Drink the right amount. Every person needs a different amount of fluid. This depends on your body size, lifestyle, exercise regime etc. Therefore, drink the appropriate amount to give you a pale straw-coloured urine. The amount is usually about 1.5-2 litres, or about eight drinks a day.
  3. Stop going for a wee ‘just in case’. This means try to break that habit of going for a wee because you’re passing a toilet, or because you’re going out, or because ‘your friend is going so you might as well too’. Start to retrain your bladder to go only when you desire it and not allowing it any other opportunities.
  4. Progress this training by thinking ‘do I really need to go?’, ‘can I wait until I have finished this job I’m doing?’. Try to defer going to the toilet by just a couple of minutes each time and progress as able. Usually the urgency will subside pretty quickly or disappear altogether. Obviously, if you haven’t been to the toilet for ages, you probably do need to go, so don’t defer for a long time, just try to get a handle on the urgency and then slowly make your way there.
  5. Try to reduce this overwhelming urgency to wee by staying calm, squeezing your pelvic floor muscles, sitting down on a hard surface or standing still, distracting yourself by reciting a poem, reading a few lines of a paper, flicking through your phone. The urge will reduce and you can then go to the toilet if its warranted, or wait to go later if you’ve only recently been. Aim for 2-3 hours between each toilet visit (pregnancy is an exception!).

Urinary urgency incontinence is a common, but treatable condition. Do contact your local NHS or Private Women’s Health Physiotherapist to receive more guidance.