Urinary incontinence affects about 200 million people worldwide, 25 million Americans and 3.3 million Canadians. As Divine.ca, a Canadian online women’s magazine puts it, “That’s a lot of people!” The magazine interviewed Dr. Jaques Corcos a urology professor at McGill University and director of two urology units in Montreal with questions about urinary incontinence to help break through some of the taboo around the discussion of the subject for its readers. The timing is right for this kind of candid conversation, encouragement and helpful advice for women who suffer from urinary incontinence.
Up until recently many women were treated for stress urinary incontinence with transvaginal mesh devices, which this January were reclassified by the FDA as high-risk devices. Tens of thousands of women have taken up lawsuits against the manufacturers alleging injuries such as erosion of the mesh into the vaginal tissue, organ perforation, pain, infection, painful intercourse, and urinary and fecal incontinence. Many have had to have surgeries to remove the mesh.
Dr. Corcos explains that moderate bladder leakage, which is triggered by sneezing, coughing, laughing and exercising is usually linked to weak muscles in the pelvic and sphincter area and can be caused by aging, menopause or giving birth. He quotes an online survey saying that “71 percent of Canadian women between the ages of 18 and 44 say they suffer from light urinary incontinence, and have leakages at least once a week.”
He acknowledges the emotional challenges of dealing with this issue saying, “Urinary incontinence can make simple daily tasks stressful.” Divine.ca and Dr. Corcos discuss the impact urinary incontinence can have on sexual intimacy and how a woman can work to lessen its impact on her relational well-being.
Health.com, in its article “12 Myths and Facts About Incontinence” says that urinary incontinence won’t kill you or shorten your life, but it can lead to self-consciousness, loneliness and depression.
One myth that Health.com debunks is that natural therapies don’t work. Dr. Corcos also offers Divine.ca’s readers quite a few suggestions of practical things they can do. He says that drinking a healthy amount of water to regularize your system is essential. “There are people with the condition who think that drinking less will help their issue, but it is actually the opposite!” he said. He also recommended avoiding alcohol, spices and acidic foods or foods with too much fat.
Health.com also recommended vitamin D and magnesium, from food or dietary supplements, saying studies have shown that they improve incontinence. Beyond diet, there are exercises such as kegels and bladder exercises that Dr. Corcos mentions, which can improve incontinence over time. He mentions physiotherapy exercises, specifically the biofeedback method, that tone the sphincter muscles of the bladder and the pelvic floor’s muscles.