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Well it’s a new year and that will mean another Continence Awareness Week will be coming up. Last year the week that used to be held in August changed to June and became World Continence Awareness Week in the last week in June. Regularly, each year around this time, I try to get an article, radio interview or other coverage for this significant event. And every year it is difficult to engage the media outlets. Well last year I posted the following article on Michelle Kenway’s site and I thought it would be good to re-post it on my own blog to again raise the very important issue of preventative education to decrease the incidence of urinary incontinence.
Why is it so difficult to get the media engaged on this topic ? Well despite sex, diet fads and your love life having a never ending run of articles in the paper, bladder, bowel and pelvic floor issues such as prolapse are very difficult to sell to the Editors that make the decisions for content in the newspaper. Yet women, and increasingly men- due to the dramatic increase in prostate cancer surgery- are hungry and desperate for information on these issues. And the incidence of these problems indicates that it may well be a circulation booster for their newspapers!
The following information is from a media release from the Continence Foundation of Australia which was sent to the radio and print media last year. It demonstrates the vast problem which is incontinence!
A recent report has found that almost 4.8 million Australians are living with some form of incontinence, limiting their ability to work and resulting in $34.1 billion in lost earnings. 
Commissioned by the Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) and conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, ‘The economic impact of incontinence in Australia’ report has found that more than 25 percent (6.5 million) of all Australians will be dealing with some form of incontinence by 2030. This rapid escalation reflects Australia’s ageing population. It also found the cost to the health system from incontinence would balloon from $271 million currently to $450 million by 2020 without clinical advances or policies designed to combat the projected increase. The overall cost of incontinence stretches beyond lost productivity and the costs to hospitals. When a cost for the hundreds of hours of informal and formal care, products and laundry costs are accounted for, the total financial cost of incontinence is estimated to be $42.9 billion, or $9,014 per person with incontinence.  These costs exclude the quality of life losses experienced by those with incontinence
Incontinence, defined as the involuntary leakage of urine or faeces, is known to increase with age, with women more susceptible than men. Over half of those who live with the condition are over 50, and 80 percent of sufferers of urinary incontinence are women. In most cases, incontinence can be managed and in many cases, cured. The report highlights that incontinence is an issue faced by literally millions of Australians. For anyone who is suffering in silence it’s important to understand you are not alone. It is a common condition that your healthcare professional can treat.’
So what is the answer?
The dissemination of accurate information about the simple preventative measures that CAN be implemented at any age- whether it be adolescent girls to when you are in your 90’s- is the first step. And increasingly I believe that different opportunities lie in social media such as Twitter and other websites such as Michelle Kenway’s website, Pelvic Floor Exercise websitewith Fiona’s blog and of course my own website. These websites and many others provide reams of free information for women to better their ‘pelvic floor lot’ and of course are available to our world-wide community- such is the power of the internet!
This is one of the reasons I wrote my book calledPelvic Floor Recovery: A Physiotherapy Guide to Gynaecological Repair Surgery’. After treating numerous patients who had had good outcomes from their ‘gynae’ repair surgery as well as many who had had failure of their surgery due to excessive exertion at the gym, repetitive lifting of their grandchildren or continually straining at stool, I decided to put pen to paper and write down all the little hints and pieces of advice that I have been giving to patients over the years and those that the patients have given me about their hospital stay.
If every woman can be well prepared going into theatre for her gyane operation then everyone –patient and surgeon- has the best chance for a successful outcome. Dispelling myths and fears will also enhance the quality of the experience for women and also save the surgeon answering the same questions that each and every patient tends to ask. That must be very repetitive for the doctor- so much easier to point the patient to a small handbook.
So here it is February and we’ll all blink and soon it will be June. So if any Editors of newspapers are out there and want to do a spread on this very important issue- send me an email!