We know that 1 in 3 women will suffer from incontinence in their life, but child birth seems to be the trigger for many women. Thankfully, we’re noticing more and more new mums open up the impact pregnancy has left on their bladders. So what effect are multiple pregnancies having on your pelvic floor and can the damage be reversed?
A woman’s pelvic floor is a broad sling of muscles which supports her bladder, womb and bowel. The muscles stretch from the pubic bone at the front of the body, to the base of the spine at the back. Much like a trampoline, the pelvic floor can stretch in response to weight and bounce up again. However, unlike a trampoline, the muscles or tissues can become overstretched and weak if they bear weight for a long time. Weak pelvic floors can result in urinary leakage.
Being pregnant can place a lot of stress on the pelvic floor muscles: from as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy it can stretch and become weak. Each subsequent pregnancy, places additional stresses on the area, as it once again is put under stress and can weaken the pelvic floor further. We see so many women who are struggling with stress incontinence.
Women are encouraged to exercise their pelvic floors throughout pregnancy and post birth (regardless of the method of delivery that saw their baby enter the world). Many of my patients report that this can be a struggle to do at home on their own, and often they are unsure if they are performing them correctly – as they are reliant on the correct technique and frequency.
It’s not only weak pelvic floors which can cause issues, ‘hypertonic’ pelvic floor muscle or overactive pelvic floor muscles can present with a range of symptoms too. Ranging from a sensation that you can’t ‘relax’ the muscle down to a more significant urinary frequency, urgency, hesitancy, stopping and starting of the urine stream, painful urination, or incomplete emptying. It can also present with constipation and persistent period pain. Most women complain of painful intercourses. I would always recommend a gynaecologist consultation and regular smear tests first to exclude anything sinister.
Traditional management of stress incontinence has been either conservative or surgical. Conservative treatments include weight loss, lifestyle changes, and pelvic floor exercises (PFE’s). These are poorly understood, and many women who believe they are doing PFE’s correctly to prevent or improve symptoms of stress incontinence are disappointed with the outcomes. The best results from PFE’s occur after a patient has been examined and taught by a specialist women’s health physiotherapist with experience and training in pelvic floor disorders.
Unfortunately, with the demands of the NHS, most physiotherapists are very over-worked, waiting lists are challenging, follow-up is difficult, and many women find their experience of conservative treatment of stress incontinence disappointing
Leading Consultant Obstetrical and Gynecologist Ellis Downes “I’m noticing a real shift in attitude from women looking to treat pelvic floor disorders. Women are still looking for a long-term, permanent solution, but now they seem to be looking to be taking matters into their own hands and taking control of their own health, more so now than ever. Whether it is on their own, or in partnership with health care professional, they are keen to explore a wider range of avenues available to them to alleviate their stress incontinence. Instead of opting for surgical procedures, I’m seeing more and more women looking for non-surgical and natural treatments which they can take control of and carry out themselves.”
“I believe this is driven by the introduction of a number of new non-surgical treatments for stress incontinence available, vSculpt being one of them. I’m noticing the positive emotional impact this type of ‘at-home’ treatment is having on women suffering with stress incontinence. Interestingly, the emotional relief that their problem can be treated discretely and non-surgically is as significant as the physical improvements they are noticing.”
The Rita Rakus Clinic is the first medical practice in the UK to offer new technologies like vSculpt to their patients. This device uses a unique combination of light therapy, gentle heat, and therapeutic vibration, to help women restore the tissue and muscles of their pelvic floor. It is great to have an effective at-home treatment available for women which allows them to tone and heal their pelvic floor area effectively, and discretely.
vSculpt, the brainchild of high-tech beauty executive and first-time mum Colette Courtion, was designed in partnership with Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and included input from over 2,300 women who shared insights into their own intimate health problems and what they wanted in a home-use solution. After more than three years of development, extensive testing and clinical studies, vSculpt was ready to make its European debut. The technology of combining light energy with thermal heat and sonic vibration is complex, but the solution is simple. Women gain control and confidence as they improve the health of their pelvic floor in just 10 minutes every other day over the course of six to eight weeks, from the comfort of their own home.