5000 new mothers each week in the UK will develop serious long term health problems, including stress incontinency because of the poor post-natal advice and guidance that they receive.
This is the claim of Barry Fowler, author of The Kegel Legacy (ebook gbp1.99), based on a new analysis of published data.
With around 60,000 births per month in the UK, it is widely acknowledged that a third of these new mothers will develop long term health problems such as stress incontinence and prolapse because they are not encouraged to follow an effective post-natal rehabilitation programme.
Incontinence alone, largely caused by pregnancy and childbirth, affects between a half and two thirds of women and there is a general belief amongst women that there is no effective treatment.
National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) acknowledges that the awareness problem is so bad that many women may wait up to ten years before seeking medical help.
Fowler, who has worked in the field for 15 years, believes that the answer is very simple.
“In reality, there is a simple, clinically-proven and very cost-effective treatment that can be prescribed by all GPs and it costs just a few pounds. But instead, like generations of women before them, new mothers and existing sufferers are being offered little or no effective help and guidance.”
“Our research shows that the best most can expect is a suggestion that they ‘do’ pelvic floor or Kegel exercises. Some may be offered a locally produced leaflet. It is just not a clinically proven treatment.”
He is also dubious of the benefits of the primary treatment recommended by NICE – a three month course of physiotherapist supervised pelvic floor muscle training. “It is widely acknowledged that this approach fails to offer any real improvement in symptoms in any realistic timescale, so it is no surprise that a general perception develops that there is no hope.”
Fowler also questions why the new NICE guidelines ignored developments in lifestyle management and physical therapies and focus exclusively on much more expensive pharmaceutical and surgical interventions.
He highlights the example of The PelvicToner™ exercise programme which has been available on prescription for nearly three and a half years.
“The PelvicToner is clinically proven to be as effective as a three month programme of physiotherapy yet it costs one tenth as much and does not take up scarce physiotherapy resources.
Fowler believes that a review of post-natal rehabilitation is urgently required. “There are an estimated 7 million women living with the embarrassment of Urinary Stress Incontinence in the UK and potentially 60,000 new mothers join them every month. Most could prevent or cure their problem within a couple of weeks but instead they support a multi-million pound industry supplying designer incontinence pads that just did not exist thirty years ago.”