'Women should not feel embarrassed'

Kate first had symptoms of stress incontinence after having a hysterectomy. Shecoped alonefor eight years before she sought help.

At first, Kate ignored her symptoms because they were mild and she thought they were a natural part of ageing. However, her symptoms became progressively worse and began to have a huge impact on her life.

She'd always been sporty and enjoyed going to aerobics classes, but she felt unable to continue with her old exercise regime for fear of leaking. She became nervous about the types of clothing she wore.

Finally, fed up with the condition and especially not knowing when she was going toleak, Kate told her doctor. She was referred to a physiotherapist, who taught her how to do pelvic floor muscle exercises.

For a while she managed by wearing pads, hoping the exercises would help. When that didn't work, Kate went back to her doctor and was prescribed medication to control her symptoms.

"There are several different routes for treating stress incontinence," Kate says. "They vary depending on the individual, but the medication wasn't for me."

Kate's medication had a number of side effects, such as loss of libido, feeling tired and raised blood pressure. It was alsonot 100% successful in stopping the leaking.

"I decided to have an operation to insert avaginal tape," she says. "It was very quick, with minimal scarring and just a little discomfort for a few days afterwards."

Six weeks later, Kate felt better than she had in years. "I'm able to run, cough and laugh without fear of leakage. I'm back at the gym, doing Pilates, and I feel really positive. It takes longer to pee, but it's great not to fear leaking or having to get up in the middle of the night.

"Women should not feel embarrassed about having stress incontinence or feel as if it's their fault," she says. "After talking to my friends about stress incontinence, I realise how common it is."

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 26 Oct 2016