Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today led a Scottish Parliament debate on tackling the taboo around incontinence. To highlight the issue, Mr Cole-Hamilton has teamed up with campaigner, physiotherapist and comedian Elaine Miller to bust the stigma around incontinence and call for a nationwide strategy to tackle the issue.
Research has shown that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 9 men leak urine and for women who have given birth vaginally, a remarkable 30% of them will have damage to their pelvic floor.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
"I would like to pay tribute to Elaine Miller in helping me to bring this debate forward today. Women and men across Scotland are suffering in silence and it is high time they are given treatment, hope and support.
"Incontinence is still taboo, patients are shy and embarrassed to seek medical help, many of whom are wrong in assuming nothing can be done about it. There is evidence that physiotherapy works for all ages, and also years after the onset of treatment. But many people who suffer with incontinence don’t even realise that treatment can improve their symptoms.
"There are currently no figures for the cost of incontinence to Scotland in terms of expensive products, physical and mental health. However, in 2010, an Australian study into the cost of sanitary wear, medication and surgery, alongside the impact of depression and anxiety, found it costs more than £5000 per person.
"Incontinence is a huge and under recognised public health crisis, but evidence shows we can prevent it and manage it with physiotherapy. This debate is an opportunity to bust the taboo surrounding incontinence and show the importance of better supporting Scots suffering with this terrible condition."
Campaigner Elaine Miller said:
"I'm delighted that Alex Cole-Hamilton is raising this issue. Leaking is very common, but, never normal - it is very important that people know that help is available, physio works, and that they don't have to put up with it. Incontinence is a barrier to exercise and affects people's quality of life in a profound way.
"Physiotherapy is very effective for many people and can save the public purse a lot of money - the evidence is there, we just need some policy in place."