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Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy

Bladder and bowel control problems are common with more than 4 million Australians regularly experiencing leakage (incontinence). Incontinence describes any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motions (faecal and bowel incontinence). Although these issues are very common and have a considerable impact on a person’s life, many people fail to seek help. This may be due to embarrassment or misinformation regarding the availability of treatment options.

The good news is that for most people, these problems can be managed and a normal life can be led without the need to restrict daily activities.

Incontinence can affect a wide variety of people. One in three women who have given birth experience some form of incontinence and 1 in 100 adults never achieve bladder control at night. However, bladder and bowel control problems are not always an inevitable part of ageing!
1 in 3 women who have given birth experience some form of incontinence and 1 in 100 adults never achieve bladder control at night
1What are the most common causes and risk factors for incontinence
  • Pregnancy Childbirth
  • Age related changes
  • Obesity
  • Menopause
  • Hysterectomy
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer
  • Obstructions within the urinary tract
  • Neurological disorders
  • 2What are the symptoms of bladder continence problems?
  • Leaking urine with coughing, sneezing, jumping and running
  • Leaking urine on the way to the toilet
  • Passing urine frequently
  • Needing to rush to the toilet
  • Getting up twice or more throughout the night to pass urine
  • Straining to get the bladder to empty
  • Having frequent urinary tract infections
  • Sudden intense urge to urinate
  • Feeling like your bladder is not completely empty
  • 3What are the symptoms of bowel continence problems
  • Leaking from the bowel with the urge to open bowels
  • Leaking from the bowel without the urge to open bowels
  • Unable to control wind
  • Straining to empty bowels
  • Leaking from the bowel when passing wind
  • Rushing to the toilet

    Types of bladder and bowel problems


    There are a few different types of bladder control problems, the first step is identifying which type you may be experiencing. The type of bladder problems are:

    • Stress incontinence: urine leaks with exertion e.g. coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercise or lifting something heavy.
    • Urge incontinence: having a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss or urine.
    • Overflow incontinence: frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to a bladder that does not empty completely.
    • Functional incontinence: leakage or urine because you a physically unable to get to the toilet due to a physical disability, intellectual disability or memory problem.


    Additionally, there are a few different types of bowel control problems, these are:

    • Constipation: passing hard, dry bowel motions with difficulty or straining
    • Diarrhoea – frequent passing of loose bowel motions
    • Faecal incontinence – uncontrolled loss of bowel motions



    Prevention and treatment


    So, what is the pelvic floor?

    The pelvic floor is a layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back to the pubic bone in the front. A women’s pelvic floor supports her bladder, womb (uterus) and bowel, and a man’s pelvic floor supports his bladder and bowel.

    Having strong pelvic floor and abdominal muscles gives you control over your bladder and bowel. A weakened pelvic floor leads to difficulty controlling the release or urine, bowel motions and wind.

    Having a strong pelvic floor musculature is particularly important in pregnant women as it will support the body to cope with the growing weight of the baby. Pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function in both men and women. In men, it is important for erectile function and ejaculation, in women it contributes to sexual sensation and arousal.


    To prevent and treat incontinence you first need to learn which muscles are the pelvic floor and how to train them. Its very important to identify your pelvic floor muscles correctly before moving into a regular pelvic floor muscle exercise program. Pelvic floor physiotherapy has been shown to reduce the indication needed for incontinence surgery, leads to a decrease risk of prolapse and improves sexual function. Our women’s health physiotherapist Laura can assess your pelvic floor function and tailor an exercise program to meet your specific needs. She can also prescribe other treatment options and discuss relevant lifestyle factors with you.



    Book an appointment with our women’s health physiotherapist Laura if you notice any of these changes occurring. It is important to know that you don’t need to experience it alone and there are treatment options available.


    Book an appointment online!