Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Special Guest Writer Feature Article
– by Sue Croft Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Pelvic floor dysfunction is a major women’s health issue that remains unaddressed in the media. Why does this lack of attention continue despite the fact that one in three Australian women will experince some form of urinary incontinence, and one in two women are likely to suffer some degree of pelvic organ prolapse?
We proudly introduce Sue Croft who is a highly regarded and experienced Australian Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of “Pelvic Floor Recovery” an outstanding new guide to preparation and recovery from gynaecological surgery. Thank you for taking the time to write this article for our readers Sue, we are sure they will benefit from your tremendous knowledge and experience!
Sue writes for us …
Well another Continence Awareness Week is over. It is the 20th year I have tried to get an article, radio interview or some media coverage for this significant event. And like other years it was difficult to engage the media outlets. So Michelle has kindly offered her wonderful website and blog for me to write some words about this important time on our calendar.
Why is it so difficult to get the media engaged on pelvic floor dysfunction? Sex, diet fads and the love lives of the rich and famous are given endless media coverage. Real women’s problems including bladder incontinence, bowel problems, pelvic prolapse and pelvic pain are almost impossible to sell to the Editors of major newspapers and women’s magazines. Yet women, and increasingly men- due to the dramatic increase in prostate cancer surgery- are desperately hungry 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 which I sent to the radio and print media. It demonstrates the vast problem of incontinence!
A recent report has found that almost 4.8 million Australians1 are living with some form of incontinence, limiting their ability to work and resulting in $34.1 billion in lost earnings1.
Commissioned by the Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) and conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, The economic impact of incontinence in Australia has found that more than 25 percent (6.5 million) of all Australians will be dealing with some form of incontinence by 20301. 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 increase1. 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 $9,0141 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 women1. 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.’
What is the real solution for preventing and overcoming pelvic floor dysfunction?
Education! The dissemination of accurate professional health information about the simple preventative measures that CAN be implemented at any age- whether for adolescent girls or women in their 90’s- is the first step. Websites such as Pelvic Exercises.com.au provide free professional health information for women to better their ‘pelvic floor lot’ which is a great asset to our community- our world-wide community- such is the power of the internet!
Education! One of the reasons I wrote my book called Pelvic 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 with failed vaginal surgery due to a lack of knowledge; with excessive gym exertion, repetitive lifting of grandchildren or continually straining at stool, I decided finally to put pen to paper (after having it on my New Year’s Eve list of resolutions for 10 years!). I wrote 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.
Next time I will be writing a short blog on the central theme of the 2011 Continence Awareness Week theme– Pelvic Floor Safe Exercising- a term coined from our own Michelle Kenway’s book Inside Out. The theme came from a recent article in The Australian when a young mum pushed herself with exercise to lose pregnancy fat and caused damage to her pelvic floor- primarily through a lack of knowledge! This sparked the formation of an Australian committee to push for education about the dangers of the wrong sort of exercises, such as sit ups and double leg lifts, and how these can cause pelvic floor dysfunction.
Sue’s book Pelvic Floor Recovery is an invaluable guide for women with pelvic floor dysfunction with successful preparation for and recovery from Gynaecological surgery. The team at Pelvic Exercises highly recommend it for the essential knowledge and understanding it provides for all real women undertaking pelvic surgery.