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No more leaks



If you have developed a wee problem since giving birth the good news is there's a very simple solution. 

"Those poor women," says Dr Lynsey Hayward, who has seen mums virtually house-bound by a leaky bladder. One, who had to stop work, was going through 100 pads a week.

And these are not just older ladies, says Lynsey. Many women in their thirties and forties have had to change their lifestyle to accommodate leakage problems. Maybe they've given up going to the gym, no longer jump on the trampoline with the kids or they now go running at night because of the embarrassing wet patches on clothing.

One in three women develop some degree of bladder leakage after giving birth. The usual advice is pelvic floor exercises and for 75% of women that leads to improvement.

"But that doesn't mean they will be dry. Many can't do star jumps or cough without leakage," says Lynsey.

Lynsey, a uro-gynaecologist at Middlemore Hospital and in private practice, says you need to do pelvic floor exercises regularly for three to six months for any real effect. They also need to be done correctly, so check websites such as continence.org.nz for detailed advice on how to exercise "down there".

If you are experiencing leakage Lynsey says there is hope, and there's no need to be embarrassed about asking for help. She says the problem can be solved with a very simple procedure but few people seem to know about it.

"A lot of GPs are not that well educated about what can be done, or maybe women don't describe the impact of what leakage can do. It's a very pervasive, gradual knock on your confidence."

Many women see it as a natural consequence of child birth, and one they just have to put up with.

Embarrassment stops women talking to their husbands or friends about the problem. And when they visit the GP, it may be the fourth or fifth item they mention, often as an after-thought.

The procedure Lynsey carries out several times a week is the mid-urethral sling. It involves making tiny cuts above the pubic bone and threading through tape that supports the urethra when you cough, sneeze or exercise.

The sling has been available in New Zealand since 1995 and is a simple 15-minute procedure. It's free in the public health system and recuperation involves a week off work and three weeks off exercise.

For 85-90% of women, the procedure makes them completely dry, says Lynsey.

So if this is a problem for you, make an appointment with your GP and make it the first thing you bring up.

Tell your GP you've tried pelvic floor exercises and you'd like a referral. Go on, be brave, what's the worst that can happen? 

Further help
Visit the New Zealand Continence Association at www.continence.org.nz or phone 0800 650 659 for information and contact details of continence advisers and physiotherapists.

Check here for articles on caring for your pelvic floor.You can order a postnatal DVD on pelvic floor strengthening exercises from fitness expert Lisa Yates at www.filifit.com.



  




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