Incontinence After Surgery

Incontinence is an issue that affects many Australians and describes the involuntary loss or leakage of urine or faeces. There are several causes of incontinence and many different types of incontinence, but a common form is one that can develop after surgery. This is often a temporary issue but can become a long-term one (about 8% of men who have their prostate removed due to prostate cancer have long-lasting incontinence issues post-surgery) – either a temporary issue or long-term adjustment, it’s important to understand how to properly manage incontinence to maintain a high quality of life.

Understanding the Difference Types of Incontinence

Incontinence aids and continence products are key to helping manage the symptoms of poor bladder and bowel control, especially after surgery. This will often present itself in the form of stress incontinence, which means you might leak urine when you cough, sneeze or lift something that is heavy. Stress Incontinence occurs because of excess stress that is put onto the bladder, either from lifestyle or medical factors, that causes any extra pressure (like from the activities mentioned above) to give way to leakage.

Another type of incontinence common after surgery is known as urge incontinence, which describes the sudden and intense need to urinate and often causes leakage before you can make it to the bathroom. Alongside these types, there is also bowel incontinence, drip incontinence, exercise incontinence, double incontinence and pregnancy incontinence. Knowing which type of incontinence you’re dealing with is key to buying the right products to manage it.

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinences occurs when there is a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles and excessive pressure is placed on the bladder and abdomen. After surgery, it’s common to experience temporary stress incontinence. However, pelvic floor exercises aimed at strengthening the pelvic floor and consistent pelvic floor physiotherapy can accelerate recovery and help your body heal.

Urge Incontinence

Urge Incontinence describes the sudden urge to urinate and is caused by abnormal bladder contractions. People who experience urge incontinence will get a strong feeling or need to urinate, even when the bladder isn’t full, and be unable to stop themselves. It can be caused by a minor condition, such as an infection, or a more severe condition such as a neurological disorder or diabetes.

Drip Incontinence

Drip incontinence describes feeling like the bladder is literally ‘overflowing.’ Drip incontinence is usually caused by the sensory nerves of the muscles around the bladder malfunctioning - this can block the signals between the brain and the bladder wall and make it difficult or even impossible to urinate. Often this results in the inability to empty the bladder entirely, causing it to become overfilled and resulting in drips of urine.

Drip incontinence is more common in older men as it’s often related to prostate problems that coincide with the growth of the prostate and aging. In women, the causes of drip incontinence are usually a swelling in the ovaries or prolapse of the uterus. Kidney stones in the urethra and operations around the bladder can also cause temporary drip incontinence.

Bowel Incontinence

Faecal incontinence describes the unintentional loss of stool. The most common cause of faecal incontinence is damage to or the weakening of the anal sphincter muscle. This can be caused by complications from surgery, childbirth or congenital disease.

How long does incontinence last after surgery?

It’s impossible to say how long incontinence will last after surgery as everyone and the causes of their incontinence are different. Incontinence can also be influenced by the age, weight, and lifestyle habits of the sufferer as well as an individual bodies healing time. This is why making sure you have the right products to best manage the incontinence is how you can continue to stay comfortable for as long as you need.

Managing Your Incontinence

Any of the different types of incontinence mentioned above can occur post-surgery and either be a temporary issue or become long-term. Millions of people worldwide manage incontinence every day and use a combination of continence aids that suit their individual needs and lifestyles. Finding the right type of continence products for your situation is key.

Liners and Pads

Incontinence Liners and Pads come in a wide variety of sizes and will differ in their absorbency levels, which means it’s important to find absorbency indicators on the products that you’re looking at. This will usually be located on the packaging or the specification information on a website. They can often be disposable (single-use) or reusable (washable) and are good continence aids if suffering from stress incontinence or drip incontinence.

Liners and pads offer discretion for an active user as well as leakage protection and separate barriers to keep the skin dry and avoid irritation.

Disposable Pull Up Pants

Disposable pull up pants, briefs and slips are continence aids specifically designed to help manage moderate to heavy incontinence or double incontinence (the involuntary loss of both urine and faeces).

Pull up pants are perfect for managing bowel incontinence because they offer standing barriers to prevent anything from leaking, as well as built-in pockets to provide extra protection for the user. Thicker and more layered padding then a liner or a pad also prevent any unpleasant smells from escaping. These products will also often feature an anatomical design for user comfort and come in a wide variety of sizes and absorbency levels.

Incontinence is an issue that affects many – but having the right tools to manage it effectively is how you can ensure a high quality of life. Find the right incontinence products to assist recovery and to suit your individual needs from our wide range of continence aids.

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Authored by Stephanie Bennett

Health & personal care