THE BLOG

Why Incontinence Doesn't Need to be a Taboo Subject

20/05/2014 13:09 BST | Updated 20/07/2014 10:59 BST

If Taryn Brumfitt's hilariously candid piece about post-pregnancy issues doesn't get you doing your pelvic floor exercises, then perhaps nothing will.

But while Taryn's approach is to tackle it publically, and with humour, many women who experience continence issues after having a child are suffering in silence.

A poll of about 1,900 women that we conducted with Netmums revealed that half of those who developed incontinence after childbirth had never spoken to anyone about the problem.

Only one in three had spoken about it to their partner and just 19 per cent discussed it with a family member.

Most worrying of all, three-quarters of women said they had never sought help from a health professional.

This is perfectly understandable - it's a difficult subject to raise.

But if we can break the taboo, we can bring about a change that will dramatically improve the lives of many thousands of people.

Because the consequences of not seeking help can be devastating, with women telling the poll that they felt 'embarrassed' or 'ashamed' about the condition.

It can leave people feeling lonely and isolated, affect relationships and prevent them exercising or having sex.

One woman told us she had suffered an episode at work and needed to tell her boss that she had to go home to change, leaving her feeling humiliated and upset.

But the problem worsened after childbirth.

"Once I had the baby I realised how bad the problem was," she said.

"I was even wetting the bed at night and the slightest thing, not even a cough would set me off. Even just having a drink - it was scary.

"My partner was really good about it but it meant I didn't feel attractive and that made me be quite distant to him."

So we need to talk more about this issue and an initiative launched this week by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and Royal College of Midwives seeks to raise awareness of the help that is available.

Physiotherapists provide expert treatment for pelvic floor conditions and, if caught relatively early, the results can often be seen quickly.

This help is available either through a referral from a GP, or by accessing your local physio service directly.

Of course, prevention is very much better than the cure and in this case, very easily done.

Indeed, you could have done a set of pelvic floor exercises while reading this - a simple routine, which should ideally be done three times a day, only takes two or three minutes to complete and they can be done anytime, anywhere.

Unfortunately many people are unaware of how to do the exercises correctly, or even of the need to do them at all.

Which is where the other aspect of our initiative with the RCM comes in - midwives will work with women to give them the knowledge to do the exercises right the way through their pregnancy and after their child is born.

This isn't just an issue for women after childbirth, however. Or even just an issue for women. It's just as important for men to do the exercises.

So do read Taryn's piece, or watch the video on our website to see why spending a few minutes every day working on your pelvic floor muscles really can make a difference.

For more information on our campaign with the RCM, check out #squeezeandlift on Twitter.