ONE in four Australian adults are affected by bladder or bowel incontinence but many people are suffering needlessly, say experts.
Incontinence is a massive health problem which can be physically, emotionally and financially debilitating. It costs the Australian economy a staggering $67 billion a year. But the good news is that around 70% of cases can be better treated or even cured.
Strong pelvic floor muscles are vital for bladder and bowel control as well as good sexual function however most people never exercise them correctly … and some don’t even know they have them.
Locating the right muscles to engage is the first step and it’s often the trickiest. To make it simpler, the Continence Foundation of Australia has developed 3D video animations that give a unique look at the male and female pelvic floor in action.
Chief executive Rowan Cockerell, said the new 3D animations were a creative way to help people visualise how pelvic floor muscle exercises prevent and treat bladder and bowel leakage.
“Doing daily pelvic floor exercises is not only the best method to prevent incontinence, it is often the cure that over five million Australians living with bladder and bowel problems are desperately looking for.” she said.
Mrs Cockerell said that everyone - including women who haven't had a baby and men - can benefit from doing pelvic floor muscle exercises.
“Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and bowel in men, and the bladder, bowel and uterus in women. In addition to helping maintain continence control, they play an important role in sexual sensation and function,” she said.
“Some people say, ‘Pelvic floor muscle exercises won't work for me, I'm too old’. This is not true. Age or gender is no barrier to the benefits of pelvic floor muscle exercises. Most men don’t even know they have a pelvic floor.”
The 3D videos were developed collaboratively with the input of Continence Foundation health professional members Shan Morrison, Dr Irmina Nahon and Associate Professor Helena Frawley, along with a team of animators from Melbourne digital agency 360South.
“Creating 3D models of the human body is invaluable in helping people visualise and better understand their physical workings and help them in the recovery and prevention of life altering conditions. Although the creation of the models can be complex, the benefits to each person are priceless,” said Bill Di Blasio, Managing Director 360South.
Pelvic floor physiotherapist and Assoc Prof. Irmina Nahon highlighted the importance of proper education about pelvic floor muscle exercises.
Most men don’t even know they have a pelvic floor.
“Doing these exercises incorrectly is at best wasting time and at worst, making bladder or bowel issues more problematic. Or if they were not appropriate for an individual, it could result in pain,” Dr Nahon said.
Dr Nahon has found the 3D animations more helpful than traditional methods when presenting to groups.
“Previously I have used 2D pictures, but they are much harder to relate to. With these animations you can see how the pelvic floor moves forward, inwards and up. People can see what they need to do,” Dr Nahon said.
The 3D pelvic floor muscle animations are free to view on YouTube.
For free confidential information about bladder, bowel or pelvic floor health, call the National Continence Helpline on 1800-330-066 or go to continence.org.au.