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Urinary incontinence — Urine leak is not normal for women of any age


Most universities in the world, however elite and expensive,

Most universities in the world, however elite and expensive, have a way of supporting meritorious students from the economically disadvantaged background. But the Universities of WhatsApp and Facebook are the most charitable of all, for they give the gift of knowledge, the most precious of all gifts, to everyone for free! I learnt on their websites today that it is the International Women’s Day today. I wonder why we do not celebrate their existence in our lives more often or even every day! But that debate for another day.

I thought I should write something on this occasion. Choosing a topic is not a problem at all for me. My subspecialty being the ‘Female & Reconstructive Urology’, I see many more women than men in my professional capacity. One of the common problems they present with is urinary incontinence which means involuntary leakage of urine when you do not want to urinate. Sadly, it is not a priority area in any healthcare system, because it is not cancer and does not kill you. But believe you me, the impact on the sufferers is no less. Ask an incontinent woman, she would rather die of cancer than smell of urine all the time and become a social outcast. It is embarrassing for them, affects their morale, their family life, their personal relationships. It ruins their quality of life. And even quantity of life. Half asleep elderly women needing to rush to the toilet at night often have trips and falls leading to complications like hip fracture, hospitalisation, hospital-acquired infections and death! Occasionally, it can even be a manifestation of something more seriously wrong with the urinary bladder.

The compounding problem is that many women do not come forward to report this symptom either because of the associated stigma or out of ignorant reconciliation. They believe it is an inevitable malady as a result of aging and/or giving birth and accept it as normal. While there may be some truth in this belief, it is certainly not normal and more importantly, you do not have to live with it. Like most others, urine leak is a treatable medical condition.

There are two main reasons for urine leak — an irritable bladder (overactive bladder in medical terms) or a weak pelvic floor usually due to repeated childbirth (stress urinary incontinence). Incontinence due to an overactive bladder is usually associated with increased frequency of urination and urgency (the need to rush to the toilet) whereas women with stress incontinence leak urine when they cough, sneeze or are exerting in another way. Quite often, they have both types of symptoms. There are effective treatments available for both types of urinary incontinence.

So, if any of you think you have these symptoms or that you have ‘lack of bladder control’, do not suffer in silence because it is not the ‘done thing’ for women to talk about such intimate issues. Consult a specialist and almost certainly, you will find a solution.

For this and other medical problems, you are welcome to log on to www.secondmedic.com and ask a question.