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The NHS is opening pelvic floor clinics for women across the country because so many of us suffer from urinary incontinence

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If you’ve ever been pregnant, then you’ll be all too familiar with pelvic floor problems. It’s very common for both new mums and mums-to-be to experience changes within their body, including the strength level of their pelvic floor muscles.

Known professionally as ‘pelvic floor dysfunction’, symptoms include leaking urine, gas or feces (urinary and bowel incontinence) and the sagging for some of your inner organs (referred to medically as uterine and other pelvic organ prolapse) as well as sexual dissatisfaction. In the past, women would have to go to private health clinics for support and treatment for such issues but the NHS has just introduced new Pelvic Floor clinicsacross the UK.

The decision to provide the service on the NHS came after the severity of the issue was highlighted by new research, which suggested one in three women experience urinary incontinence in the first year after having a baby, while up to three quarters of these women continue to experience this in the following 12 years after giving birth.

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The clinics will be rolled out in 14 areas of the country to start, with up to 175,000 women set to benefit from the services every year. Each clinic will bring women with symptoms face to face with midwives, specialist doctors and specialist physiotherapists throughout their pregnancy. The professionals will offer everything from treatments to reduce symptoms, to exercises that will help prevent pelvic floor muscles in the first place.

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“We know many women don’t report issues with incontinence because they are embarrassed about seeking help. Bringing together experts in pelvic health in one place will offer women a way of seeking help quickly and easily, as well as sending the message that postnatal incontinence is nothing to be ashamed of and can be treated,” said Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, NHS England’s Chief Midwifery Officer.

“We all have a duty to share evidence-based messages – including that incontinence products are, primarily, a temporary support, and women with incontinence should seek medical support. We must make sure that these messages are reinforced wherever possible, and not contradicted.”

The initiative is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to improve the prevention, identification and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction. The service will be available to women in every part of the country by March 2024.

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