It is one of those subjects some women are too embarrassed to discuss, even with their families. Yet bladder problems can cause misery, ruin lives and cause some women to become "prisoners" in their own homes, says Christine Caddick, specialist nurse at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
With colleagues in the Urodynamic Dept she helps run a unique clinic at the hospital in Crown Street and at the hospital's Aintree site for women from all parts of Merseyside.
On Monday, June 22, the start of World Continence Week, the team is holding an Open Day in the Blair Bell Centre at Liverpool Women's (10am to 4pm) when women can discuss their concerns with experts like Christine and midwives for those with ante and post maternity problems.
Says Christine: "There is a lot we can do to help, including a support group, so we would urge women not to suffer in silence if they have any sort of debilitating bladder problem."
One of the most painful and life shattering conditions is Painful Bladder Syndrome (Interstitial Cystitis) a long term inflammation of the bladder wall affecting women of all ages from their twenties upwards (not to be confused with ordinary cystitis which can be treated with antibiotics). Patty Otty, of Formby, whose life became a nightmare because of PBS has spoken about her experience because she wants to persuade other women with the same condition to seek help and support like she found at Liverpool Women's.
"A lot of women are too embarrassed to talk about it but conditions like mine can ruin lives," says Patty.
The condition had hit her at a good time of life when she was building a new career after bringing up her family. Becoming a mature student and gaining two degrees, she got a job as a social worker, eventually becoming an approved Mental Health Practitioner, a job she loved.
She also wants to make more GPs aware of the condition because some women suffer for at least three to four years before they are diagnosed often after endless checks for other conditions. That was what happened to Patty, 65, before she was finally referred to Liverpool Women’s. "It was like having a warm blanket wrapped around me because they understood what I was going through."
Like other sufferers, Patty can need to urinate 60 times in 24 hours. To someone who had to travel in her work, this was a nightmare. "Sometimes it is so painful it is like sitting on broken glass. The pain can go on a score from 0-10 in seconds. I spent important meetings, doubled up in pain." says Patty who reluctantly had to give up her job. Finally after other investigations, Patty was referred to Liverpool Women's which has a special Urodynamic team offering treatments and support group for women like Patty. Although there is no permanent cure, patients are offered treatments and coping strategies which can help them lead a normal life.
Says Christine Caddick: "There is a lot we can do to help, including a support group, so we would urge women not to suffer in silence if they have any sort of debilitating bladder problem."