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A new study from the University of Adelaide has found that, compared to older women, middle-aged women are more likely to suffer from depression as a result of their urinary incontinence problems.
No one likes to openly talk about their bladder problems as it can be embarrassing and damaging to the self-esteem. But for younger women (aged 43-65), incontinence seems to have a bigger mental and emotional effect because they’re at an age where they’re supposed to be active, social, and accomplishing life goals. Whereas older women (aged 65-89) tend to be more resilient and accepting of their incontinence problems, younger women feel like they can’t enjoy the activities they love anymore.
“Key issues for younger women affected by incontinence are family, sexual relationships and sport and leisure activities,” Jodie Avery, a senior research associate with the university’s School of Population Health and School of Medicine, said in a press release. “The most common difficulties women express about their incontinence are things like, ‘I can’t play netball’, ‘I can’t go to the gym’, ‘I can’t go for walks’, or ‘I can’t go dancing’, and these are real issues for women who are still in the prime of their lives.”
Avery suggested that women who suffer from incontinence should seek medical attention before the condition takes a toll on their quality of life. General practitioners should also understand that in order to prevent depression, the incontinence problem should be treated.
“Ultimately, we hope that our research helps to raise awareness in the community about both the mental and physical issues associated with incontinence,” Avery said. “We know it’s embarrassing, but if you discuss it with your GP, your life really can change.”
Treatments for incontinence may include pelvic floor exercises (kegels), bladder retraining, and in some cases, surgery. Women can also wear incontinence pads to manage and prevent leaks.