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Health experts to visit gyms to offer help to people with common problem

The Community Healthy Bladder and Bowel team

Health staff are set to visit gyms to offer help with a common condition many are too embarrassed to talk about.

Incontinence, of the bladder or bowel, can affect anyone of any age.

But stress incontinence, pressure on the bladder from movement or activity which causes a leak, is often a problem for women during exercise.

And with a perceived stigma discouraging discussion of the issue, lead nurse Louise Barraclough said many people will simply put up with the problem and wear a pad.

“There has been investment in lots of absorbent pad products which are advertised on TV and in every supermarket, normalising incontinence,” she said.

“And while there are some people who unfortunately have no choice, we can cure or improve continence issues for many.”

Louise and colleagues from the Community Healthy Bladder and Bowel Service will be at two Simply Gyms in Swansea and a range of other venues during World Continence Week between June 19th and 23rd.

They’ll be handing out leaflets and signposting to apps designed to improve continence.

The team will also explain how clients can self refer into their service, which offers an assessment and tailor-made six-week programme, including diet changes and pelvic floor exercise.

“We think one in five people in the UK are affected by bladder problems and one in 10 by bowel problems. But we don’t know the true figure, which could be much higher because it is still a taboo subject,” said Louise.

“But we do know that fewer than 40 per cent of people experiencing urinary incontinence will seek help.

“Our message is that this is not something you have to put up with – it’s never too late.”

Louise said they are visiting gyms because clients are less likely to have had contact with health services and won’t be aware that help is available.

But they will also be visiting GP practices, Gorseinon Hospital, Port Talbot Resource Centre and Dementia Hwb Swansea in The Quadrant, encouraging all those affected by continence issues to ask for help.

“If they don’t get help now, their muscle tone will get worse so they may have more incidents,” she said.

“For the elderly, rushing to the toilet can cause falls which can put them in hospital.

“Some people won’t drink enough to try to prevent leaks and become dehydrated, which is always serious but particularly so in this warm weather.

“And the use of pads can lead to skin problems because they are often so absorbent that they pull moisture out of the skin, causing skin damage.”

Continence problems can also affect people’s mental health, causing anxiety, loss of self esteem and isolation.

Louise added: “We’ve had some wonderful successes with our six-week programme where people have become continent and then been able to attend events they were going to avoid.

“It’s not an inevitable part of aging. About 80 per cent of urinary incontinence can be treated or improved.”

  • You can self refer into the service or ask your GP or another health professional for a referral. Contact the team on 01792 532424 or email: [email protected]
  • The Community Healthy Bladder and Bowel Team will be visiting the following places during World Continence Week:

Wednesday, June 21st –Dementia Hwb Swansea, The Quadrant 11am to 3pm

Thursday, June 22nd – Simple Gym, Gorseinon 9am to 12pm

                                    Simple Gym, Llansamlet 1pm to 4pm

Friday, June 23rd – Port Talbot Resource Centre 9am to 1pm