Incontinence: ‘Sometimes I Didn’t Want to Have Sex Because I Was Worried I’d Wet Myself’
Incontinence is a widespread issue affecting not only older women but also younger women who often suffer in silence due to the associated taboo. Despite the common misconception that incontinence primarily affects the bladder, it can also be caused by undiagnosed rectal problems resulting from traumatic births. This article aims to shed light on the experiences of two women, Lucy and Lavinia, who have dealt with incontinence for years but have struggled to find effective treatment and support. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to address the embarrassment and stigma surrounding incontinence to better assist patients in managing their condition.
The Stories of Lucy and Lavinia
Lucy Griffiths, a former television journalist, started experiencing incontinence during her pregnancy. Her persistent coughing led to the loss of bladder control, which continued even after giving birth. Despite seeking urgent support from healthcare professionals, Lucy’s condition remained unchanged, eventually forcing her to abandon her career due to the emotional impact and stress caused by constant accidents. Lucy eventually underwent TVT surgery, a controversial procedure that uses mesh to support the muscles around the bladder. While her life has significantly improved since the surgery, Lucy still faces challenges, especially during winter months when coughing exacerbates her symptoms.
On the other hand, Lavinia, a doctor living in Kent, began experiencing incontinence after her second child was born. Initially, she attempted self-treatment by regularly doing pelvic floor exercises. However, as her symptoms worsened, she sought medical help and was diagnosed with rectal and bladder prolapse. The recommended rectal surgery and hysterectomy were delayed due to the pandemic, significantly impacting Lavinia’s quality of life. In addition to physical suffering, Lavinia highlights the lack of consideration for the emotional and psychological toll of her condition, particularly on her sex life. The fear of wetting herself during sexual intercourse has made her paranoid and affected her desire to engage in intimate relationships.
– Incontinence affects not only older women but also up to half of women over 50 and 700,000 younger women.
– Pregnancy and vaginal births are common risk factors for developing incontinence.
– Incontinence is not limited to bladder problems; undiagnosed rectal issues can also contribute to the condition.
– Mesh surgery, while controversial due to potential complications, has provided relief for some individuals with incontinence.
– Incontinence can have a profound impact on mental health, limiting social activities and causing emotional distress.
1. The prevalence of incontinence among women, regardless of age, suggests the need for increased awareness, support, and non-judgmental care.
2. Medical professionals should take a holistic approach to patients, considering both physical and emotional aspects of incontinence.
3. Effective treatment options, such as mesh surgery, can significantly improve the lives of individuals with severe incontinence, but potential complications must be carefully weighed.
4. Acknowledging the impact of incontinence on sexual relationships is crucial, addressing concerns and offering solutions to ensure intimacy and quality of life.
The experiences of Lucy and Lavinia shed light on the challenges faced by women living with incontinence. It is vital for healthcare professionals to address the embarrassment and stigma associated with this condition, providing comprehensive care, effective treatment options, and emotional support. By fostering open discussions and destigmatizing incontinence, we can improve the quality of life for millions of women who suffer in silence.