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Bladder weakness: Pelvic Floor Strengthening

Bladder weakness: Pelvic Floor Strengthening

While it may be a sensitive subject, bladder weakness affects one in three women. But now there is a solution.

Women joke about it all the time. “Oh no, I can’t go trampolining, I’m a mother of three.” “I was scared to cough after I had the baby, I thought it might all fall out.” “Until I reached menoapuse I thought ‘laughing till I wet myself ’ was a turn of phrase.

But, despite research showing that bladder weakness is more common than hay fever, it’s not something we like talking about seriously.

“When people talk about ‘bladder weakness’ they normally mean passing urine when they don’t want to,” says Dr Julian Spinks, a GP with a special interest in incontinence. “But ‘bladder weakness’ isn’t a medical term – we doctors call it incontinence, but that has a lot of negative connotations and people think it only affects old people.”


The truth is that women of almost any age can suffer from incontinence and, in many cases, that’s down to a weakness in the pelvic floor muscles. These sheet-like muscles run from the pubic bone to the spine and hold the pelvic structures, such as the bladder and uterus.

Despite research showing that bladder weakness is more common than hay fever, it’s not something we like talking about seriously

Everything from high-impact exercise to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can result in these muscles becoming weaker, and one of the side effects of this is bladder weakness or incontinence, which affects one in three women.

“One of the most common types of urinary incontinence in women is so-called stress incontinence,” says Dr Spinks, “which is when a weakness or dysfunction of the pelvic floor results in accidental leaks when these muscles are under stress, such as while coughing.

“But despite the fact that urinary incontinence is so commonplace, women are reluctant to discuss it, even with medical professionals. Sixty-eight per cent of people living with the condition have never consulted their GP, and six in 10 say they just ‘put up with it’. To add to this, 50 per cent of women surveyed by Innovo worry about laughing in public.”

Like any muscle, your pelvic floor muscles can be trained, says Dr Spinks. “The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests a minimum of 24 muscle contractions daily, and many experts recommend more than that. But just as one gym session won’t turn you into an athlete, you need to stick with it for at least three months. It can be difficult to get people to do the correct exercises correctly, day after day. That’s why devices such as Innovo can be more effective.”

By Claire Coleman

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