There is a real move in this day and age for self neglect and hope for a pill / surgery at some future point that will put things back together again.
But, all surgery carries inherent risk, so it is a far better idea to avoid it whenever possible. You should do all you can to ensure this preventable condition result in surgery.
Stress incontinece has been taboo for many generations. No-one speaks about incontinence, no one speaks about the pelvic floor, core muscles are ignored in favour of corsets.
No information is travelling from mother to daughter. Little or no help is offer to women after childbirth in the UK. No information is given out about the benefits of pelvic floor exercises.
As a result, few people know about the condition until it affects them directly. And they don't know that it can be treated (or avoided) simply and easily by looking after your pelvic floor. Instead they too keep it a secret until it is too later and they have a chronic stress incontinence or prolapse (prolapse is when your internal organs partially drop through your weak pelvic floor and come out of your vagina), which needs medical intervention or surgery.
Exercise even at this stage can be helpful, it can reduce symptoms and leaking, but if you are suffering and struggling with continence there are surgeries available to help with the symptoms and remake the pelvic floor to stop prolapse.
If you think that it is already too late for you and that you need medical help, talk to your GP about which treatment is suitable for you.
There are drugs available, which can help, and surgical options include attaching internal vaginal support device (or pessary) in a GP surgery to hold things up, or more complex remaking of the pelvic floor with implants or mesh.
Your GP can refer you to a specialist incontinence unit, or surgeon. There is a wide variety of options available. You can see a comprehensive overview of surgery options here.
It is important to understand that surgery is not an easy option, or a perfect cure. You can read a detailed view of the pros and cons of options to treat incontinence from the NHS here.
There is a specialist incontinence nurse at many GP surgeries and many NHS trusts run incontinence services in your area. There is a womens health physiotherapist in most NHS trusts. . Click here to find out more about NHS Incontinence Services or click here to search The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists' register of private womens health phyiotherapists.
Most importanly, don't put it off, act now! Whether you try self-help first, or seek help from medical professionals, don't put it off.
It is important to know that you are important enough for this to be done for you – women suffering quietly over many many years has created a taboo but for people to struggle without help is a very sad situation.
Time will not heal stress incontinence, it will make it worse!