Three women were asked how well they knew their vagina and what their biggest fear for it was – and it’s something which is more common than we think. By Zahra Mulroy
No two lady-parts are the same, but it remains that vaginas have an impressive repertoire of skills and functions. Yes, not only do they play a crucial part in reproduction (which in itself is no mean feat), but they self-clean, have very strong muscle tone and contain more nerve endings than anywhere else on the body. So considering all the tasks a vagina can perform, it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s a correspondingly long list of conditions which can affect them.
And out of this list come many of our fears – but is there one worry which plays on women’s minds the most? While our reticence to talk about ‘down there’ may mean it doesn’t crop up in conversation often / ever, for Pregnancy Awareness Month, three women, including a mother-to-be are asked the question.
Asked how well they know their vaginas, they then reveal what their biggest fear for their vagina is.
And the answer is leaking.
According to Intimina , between 15 and 50 per cent of women experience bladder leaks during their lifetimes. And incontinence isn’t just confined to the elderly – 20 to 30 per cent of sufferers are young women.
So what causes it?
The risk factors behind leaking include pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, menopause, and high impact sports and incontinence comes in four types.
The four types of incontinence
1. Stress Incontinence
This is linked to a lack of strength in the pelvic floor, a complex group of muscles that amongst other things, work to support the bladder.
If they become too weak, the bladder effectively moves down inside the pelvis causing a knock-on effect on the sphincter muscles and preventing them from closing as tightly as normal, resulting in the release of a small amount of urine.
Seezing, coughing and laughing are all possible triggers for stress incontinence, as is any activity that places pressure on the bladder.
2. Urge Incontinence
Also known as an overactive bladder, this type of incontinence is characterized by a sudden urge to go to the bathroom that can’t always be controlled, resulting in the leaking of urine.
It’s caused by involuntary bladder contractions or spasms, and is generally a symptom of damaged muscle or nervous system.
3. Overflow Incontinence
The only type of incontinence that’s actually more prevalent in men than women, overflow incontinence sees sufferers frequently or constantly leak small amounts of urine.
It’s caused by an inability to completely empty the bladder, usually due to a damaged bladder, blocked urethra or nerve damage, often caused by an underlying medical condition such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes.
4. Functional Incontinence
Functional incontinence is generally associated with the elderly, and is almost always linked to an underlying medical condition.Unlike the other three main forms of UI, it is not caused by problems controlling the bladder. Rather, sufferers are aware of their need to urinate but for physical or mental reasons are unable to reach the toilet in time.
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