Eight in 10 Australian women affected by bladder leakage fail to seek help for the problem, with 72 per cent preferring to laugh off the health issue, according to new health figures.
A national health survey of 1,000 women aged 30 years and older found that, although they were prepared to admit to bladder leakage in discussions with girlfriends, almost three in four “laughed off” the issue, rather than seeking help for the treatable condition.
Alarmingly, 85 per cent of women who laughed off bladder leakage mistakenly attributed the condition to ageing or having children, while 45 per cent did not seek treatment because they didn’t consider it a serious enough health issue.
Continence Foundation of Australia chief executive Rowan Cockerell said the findings showed women were continuing to ignore their health needs.
“While it’s good that women feel bladder leakage is an issue they can raise with friends, it is alarming to know that they are simply laughing off the problem and not seeking help for what is a very treatable condition,” Ms Cockerell said.
“There continues to be a misconception that incontinence is an inevitable result of having children or ageing, and that’s just not true. Incontinence is common, but it’s not normal and should be treated just like any other health condition.
“The good news is, treatment usually involves simple lifestyle changes and pelvic floor muscle exercises, which everyone should be doing anyway to prevent incontinence.”
Incontinence is one of the nation’s biggest health burdens, affecting 4.8 million adult Australians – a number predicted to reach 6.5 million by 2030. More than half of the women affected by incontinence are under 50 years old.
“Prevention is always better than a cure, but early treatment is really key to fixing the problem,” Ms Cockerell continued. “People who ignore the issue are often unaware of the impact incontinence has on their lifestyle, whether it be avoiding exercise or limiting social engagements for fear of an embarrassing accident.
“Women shouldn’t have to fear winter coughs and spring sneezes when treatment is readily available and has proven to be so successful. Incontinence isn’t something you have to put up with for the rest of your life.”
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