I’ve been diagnosed with having incontinence but find the topic hard to discuss with my GP. Are there any natural remedies that might help ease my symptoms or any new approach to treating the condition?

with Dr Marc

There are many possible reasons for incontinence, which can include both urinary and fecal incontinence and there are many different approaches to treatment ranging from exercises to biofeedback to surgery.

Urinary incontinence is a very common problem, particularly in women as they age with one third of women over 60 experiencing bladder problems but can happen at any age. Stress incontinence, which is the most common type of urinary incontinence, occurs when small amounts of urine escape during coughing, laughing, sneezing, or other movements that increase intra-abdominal pressure. This type of incontinence is often exacerbated by changes in the pelvic floor during pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. The treatment of incontinence will depend on the type and cause. Stress incontinence is often treated through pelvic floor muscle exercises such as Kegel exercises.

While most forms of incontinence are benign and treatable, it is important to exclude sinister causes such as infection or tumours. It is therefore important to have a medical examination and possibly referral to a urologist. It may help your practitioner for you to keep a diary of your incontinence including the circumstances of when it happens and the amount of urine released. It is disturbing that you are not comfortable discussing incontinence with your GP. Was it your GP who diagnosed you? It is important to feel comfortable having frank and open discussions with your health practitioners. I suggest trying to directly address this issue with your GP or, if you find this hard, try finding another doctor or healthcare provider with who you feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues.