It’s not often a birthday cake disappoints me. After all, who doesn’t love birthday cake?

But this one did.

I know, I know, it’s supposed to be funny – and I admit, it’s an excellent cake in terms of technique – it looks so amazingly real! I found it on Facebook (of course), and the story goes that the lady whose birthday it was chose this cake herself, because she wanted something different and funny for her birthday.

And maybe I just have no sense of humour, but as someone who works in women’s health, I just don’t find incontinence funny. I’ve also spent a few years working in aged care facilities in the past, and as anyone who has worked in this industry can tell you – incontinence is no laughing matter in aged care.

Did you know continence issues are one of the major reasons people are admitted to aged care facilities – when they can no longer manage their own continence, and their family can’t (or won’t) manage it for them. It’s heartbreaking.

Did you also know that continence issues are one of the leading causes of falls in the elderly? So many falls happen overnight during toilet trips. And with falls come other injuries, such as fractures and head injuries. And so it goes that continence becomes a much bigger problem, and absolutely not a laughing matter.

But when you’re just 50 years old – and aged care isn’t even on the horizon, it’s just fun, fun, funny. Right?

I think the issue here is that it’s an “if you can’t laugh at it, you’ll cry” sort of situation. Incontinence, or “leakage” is something that affects so many women. It’s extremely common, but it’s also extraordinarily embarrassing, shameful and life altering. Women make all kinds of changes to their daily lives to avoid or hide their “leakage” issues. Which is why we laugh at it – because it’s easier to pretend it’s funny, rather than the fact that it’s destroying our self confidence and self concept.

I’ve blogged about “leakage” a few times before, I’ve spoken about how there’s more to it than just pelvic muscle weakness, and about which exercises are safe for your pelvic floor, and I’ve also written this post about what I call the “normalisation” of female incontinence. I write about it a lot because part of my mission is to help people understand that leakage for women may be common, but that doesn’t mean it is normal. #commonnotnormal

Because I’m a big fan of prevention and early intervention I often talk about pelvic floor health for new Mums on my site. But I can and do work with woman of all ages. In fact, the majority of my clients at the moment are women whose children are school age. And yes, I’ve even worked with 50 year olds!

I think perhaps the issue is that I use the term “postnatal” a lot. Because I’m guessing most people associate “postnatal” to those first 12 months or so after birth.

But I have a little phrase I like to use:

“Once you’re postnatal, you’re always postnatal”.

Basically that means that the issues that can affect you in that first year after childbirth can actually stick around for a a very long time, years, decades even. But the good news is that you can address it, it’s never too late to work on improving your pelvic floor function. Just because you’ve leaked for the past five, 15 or 25 years, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be dry again. You just need the right support to help you reach that goal – that is, if like me, you don’t think it’s a laughing matter.

If you want help, or know someone who might want help, please contact me, even if it’s just to clarify any queries or questions you might have.

Cheers, Sarah