Former ‘Changing Rooms’ host Carol Smillie has opened up about her experiences with incontinence. The presenter has revealed that she is one of six million sufferers in the UK who have problems with bladder control.
Speaking on ‘This Morning’, Carol told host Phillip Schofield and Amanda Holden that she first started suffering from incontinence in her 40s, first wetting herself while playing on a trampoline with her children.
Carol has now set up her own business supplying pants with a secret wash-proof panel to women who also suffer with the problem.
Carol was joined on the sofa by Dr Chris Steele, who explained how the condition occurs.
“If you think of your bladder as an inverted pyramid, and the point of your pyramid is resting on your pelvic floor, like a hammock of muscles and they are supporting your bladder and bowels and all your internal organs,” he said.
“But of course when you’re pregnant with a heavy baby, that is a lot of stress put on the muscles, and those muscles fibres can get torn and weakened, and childbirth, getting older, menopause.”
However, he was quick to point out that it doesn’t just come to women with age.
“20 percent of women with this condition are aged under 30. It’s a medical taboo for many women, many not even telling their partner,” he said.
Seeking medical advice
According to the NHS, although you may feel embarrassed talking to someone about your symptoms, it’s a good idea to see your GP if you have any type of urinary incontinence as this can be the first step towards finding a way to effectively manage the problem.
Urinary incontinence can usually be diagnosed after a consultation with your GP, who will ask about your symptoms and may carry out a pelvic examination (in women) or rectal examination (in men).
Your GP may also suggest you keep a diary in which you note how much fluid you drink and how often you have to urinate.
How urinary incontinence is treated
Initially, your GP may suggest some simple measures to see if they help improve your symptoms. These may include:
- lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol
- pelvic floor exercises (exercising your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing them) taught by a specialist
- bladder training (where you learn ways to help you can wait longer between needing to urinate and passing urine) guided by a specialist
- You may also benefit from the use of incontinence products, such as absorbent pads and hand-held urinals (urine collection bottles).
If you are still unable to manage your symptoms, medication may be recommended and surgery may also be considered. The specific procedures suitable for you will depend on the type of incontinence you have.
Surgical treatments for stress incontinence, such as tape or sling procedures, are used to reduce pressure on the bladder, or strengthen the muscles that control urination.
Preventing urinary incontinence
It is not always possible to prevent urinary incontinence, but there are some steps you can take that may help reduce the chance of it developing, such as:
- controlling your weight
- avoiding or cutting down on alcohol
- keeping fit – in particular, ensuring that your pelvic floor muscles are strong
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All content on this website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult your own GP if you’re in any way concerned about your health.