Improve women’s health – improve the world

March 16 2018

It may sound bombastic… but nevertheless, we believe it’s true!

Improving women’s health not only matters to women, but to their families, to the communities and societies at large.

We would like to highlight women’s needs, not least within our field of bladder management.

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Women and health

Generally, women face greater difficulties getting the healthcare they need. This gender inequality has roots both in biology and society at large.

The WHO report ‘Women and health’ calls for reforms to ensure that women are centrally involved in the design, management and delivery of health services.

Within our field, continence care, it is about making it possible for all women to succeed with Intermittent Catheterization. This movie explains how!

The biology
Some health problems only affect women - for example, cervical cancer, and the health risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth – fields that need greater attention in research. And the majority of general medical studies are based on men, not least when it comes to the urinary tract, so there is often an oversight in recognition of women's specific needs.

The social factors include financial barriers to health care, such as poverty, unemployment, part-time work, ingrained traditional assumptions, and work in an insecure sector without health benefits.

Women also live longer than men and represent a growing proportion of all older people - societies must prepare for the costs associated with the care of older women.

Women and LUTS

When it comes to bladder issues, the expected prevalence of any type of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) is higher among women than among men.

  • Urinary incontinence is about 2.5 to 3 times more common among women.
  • The risk of UTI’s are 3-4 times greater in women.
  • Overactive bladder is more common in women.

Many women struggle for years to find a solution to their bladder problems, without success. One method that is often overlooked, or even avoided, is intermittent catheterization (CIC). CIC might be a good solution to many of these problems but being a female seems to pose a barrier to this therapy.

Women and catheterization

To begin with the anatomy makes it hard to see where to insert the catheter . . . Some feel ashamed when they can’t go to the toilet the normal way. Some imagine CIC as something invasive or even painful that diminishes their femininity, or see it as yet another onerous task to add to the pile.

Some women avoid going out if they don’t know where to find an accessible bathroom. Some even drink less to avoid visits to the toilet.

Overcome barriers
But if you are aware of the above, it is definitely possible to overcome the obstacles. First it is important to “go all in” with the therapy. Your dedication will determine whether the therapy is successful or not.

A good start is crucial and the choice of catheter equally so. The catheter needs to both fit your needs and lifestyle.

Click to visit the Women's health web section 

WHO 2009. Women and health: today's evidence tomorrow's agenda., WHO.
Irwin et al., 2011
Dielubanza and Schaeffer, 2011
Parsons et al., 2012

Topics: Clean Intermittent Catheterization (CIC), Women's health