HEALTH: Stop laughing about incontinence and learn how to get it under control.
HEALTH: Stop laughing about incontinence and learn how to get it under control.

Reduce anxiety with five incontinence management tips

MANAGING incontinence may simply be a matter of following five health management steps rather than laughing off the condition says the Continence Foundation Australia.

Incontinence affects both men and women, with close to 4.8 million Australian adults affected by urinary or faecal incontinence of which 20% are men and 55% are women aged 50 and over.

The risk factors for women are higher due to menopause, older age, constipation, obesity, recurrent urinary tract infections, pelvic surgeries, such as prostatectomy and hysterectomy, neurological diseases such as MS, reduced mobility, some medications, some chronic conditions such as diabetes, stroke and asthma.

CFA nurse and manager of its hotline Sue Blinman says using the five following steps will go a long way towards Australian men and women gaining better bladder and bowel health.

1. Eat well

  • This means having a good fluid input that is suitable to your needs.
  • Ensure you have an adequate amount of soluble and insoluble fibre in your diet which the Australian Dieticians recommend as 30 grams or more per day.
  • More details on a healthy diet can be found at

2. Drink adequately

  • You need to include food and fluids in the amount consumed which is about two and half litres per day.
  • The amount of fluid should be in moderation and dependent on your own health needs.

3. Keep active

  • Do a minimum of 30 minutes walking per day. If you have poor mobility, this can be achieved by going around your home.

4. Regular pelvic floor muscle exercises

  • It's the muscles we are talking about, not the actual floor, which is a common misconception.
  • These exercises are for the hold-on muscles of the bladder and bowel, and they support all the internal organs. When we need to 'hold on', we contract these muscles around the bladder, vagina and bowel.
  • Strong pelvic floor muscles give us control over the bladder and bowel.

Details of the exercises for men and women can be found at

5. Practise good toilet habits

  • Avoid going to the toilet just in case and avoid hanging on instead of going.
  • An average adult bladder will hold between 400 and 600mls so you should want to go to the toilet every four to five hours during the day.
  • During the night, it can be zero to once, sometimes twice if you are over the age of 65.
  • People need to sleep in their beds, not in a chair or on the couch, so your body can rest completely.
  • On the toilet, if you have a squat one, great. If you don't, you can mimic it by sitting down, leaning forward, raising your heels so that you are balancing on your toes and remaining leaning forward. That action naturally alters the anatomy of the body and your stomach contents then gently put a little bit of pressure on the bladder.
  • Don't strain.
  • At home, you can use a small plastic stool or an old phone book to put under your feet.
  • You need to relax your pelvic floor when you are on the toilet to help empty the bladder. If you don't empty your bladder it will keep building up and you could backflow up to the kidneys.

For more helpful hits and information, go to or call the hotline on 1800 330 066.

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