Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is a very common condition, affecting an estimated 30% of women worldwide. The condition can have a significant impact on daily life affecting activities, relationships and emotional well-being. Two thirds of these women suffering from SUI are undiagnosed.
Many women who suffer from SUI may feel embarrassed and isolate themselves, especially from exercise and social activities. A recent survey showed that around 9 out of 10 women living with SUI are likely to simply “put up with” the condition, rather than seeking treatment and advice, despite any negative effects on their quality of life, relationships or ability to exercise.
SUI can be especially frustrating, uncomfortable and harder to hide during the hot summer months, whether you are going on holiday, BBQ-ing with friends or simply playing outside with the kids.
Mr Steve Foley, Consultant Urologist at the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust (Reading) discusses his top tips for coping with SUI during summer:
1. Stay hydrated – Most people with SUI instinctively try drinking less to prevent the need to go to the toilet. However, dehydration concentrates your urine, irritating the sensitive lining of your bladder and making you feel like you need to ‘go’ more often, alcohol and fizzy drinks can worsen the problem. Don’t cut down on the amount of fluid you drink in an attempt to avoid unwanted accidents, as you will be leaving yourself open to the dangers of dehydration and after a long day in the sun this can be dangerous.
Don’t forget – You can stay hydrated with foods as well as fluids; watermelon, cucumbers, radishes and peppers are summer staples packed with water that give your bladder a break.
2. Speak to your GP about treatment options – Bulking agents, which are generally lesser known than surgical approaches to treating SUI, are a minimally invasive treatment which means no cutting of the patient’s tissue or skin. They are a safe and effective treatment for stress urinary incontinence which have been used for over 10 years. In my clinic, we use Bulkamid® a water-based gel that helps the bladder neck to close when needed to help prevent bladder leaks and has an 80% success rate when used as a first line treatment. Many of my patients have been shocked by how quickly they are able to return to their normal routines after minimally invasive treatments, such as bladder bulking, and have no more leaks when partaking in exercise, sneezing or even using a trampoline with their kids.
3. Locate accessible toilets and take regular breaks – Whether you are going to the park for the day, going to the beach or exploring a new city then make sure you know where accessible toilets are located. Scheduling bathroom breaks every 2 to 4 hours can help avoid embarrassing leaks.
4. Wear breathable clothes – The good thing about summer is that you can wear light and loose fighting clothes that dries quickly in case you have a leak. Try to wear trousers made from cotton as it is a lot more cooling and comfortable than denim.
5. Be prepared – The results of a recent survey revealed that 60% of women in the UK have admitted to experiencing an embarrassing leak when they sneeze and with summer being the height of hay-fever season it is important to be prepared. Make sure you pack extra pants, pads and anti-histamines but most importantly speak to your GP and find out how you can stop this happening.