Symptoms Of Urinary Incontinence
Having urinary incontinence means you pass urine unintentionally.
When and how this happens varies depending on the type of urinary incontinence you have.
Although you may feel embarrassed about seeking help, it’s a good idea to see your GP if you have any type of urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is a common problem and seeing your GP can be the first step towards finding a way to effectively manage the problem.
Ways To Stop Bladder Leaks
If you find yourself crossing your legs out of instinct when you laugh or sneezeOr if you hold back from doing some fun things because youre afraid an embarrassing leak may stop you in your tracksOr if you avoid intimacy out of fear of leaking at the worst moment possibleYou arent alone. But, contrary to what your doctor may tell you, you do not have to suffer in silence.If youve ever been to a doctor and been told that leaks are just a part of getting older, and felt devastated, embarrassed, or afraid that this is the rest of your lifeI want you to know that there IS a better way.Crossing the threshold to menopause does not automatically mean that you need to be miserable. You have the power to live the life of your dreams, without embarrassing or annoying symptoms, through your 50s, 60s, and beyond!Bladder leaks are frustrating and absolutely affect the quality of your life, relationships, and sleep. But theres more to the picture than you may think.Lets dive into the types of bladder leaks that are most common in perimenopause and menopause, why they happen, and exactly what you can do to stop bladder leaks from stealing your joy!
Watch Out For Bladder
Lots of things — including caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods and drinks, sweeteners, hot spices, and fizzy drinks — can irritate your bladder. Although many foods and drinks can make OAB symptoms worse, you don’t necessarily have to avoid all of them.
Instead, take the time to discover exactly what triggers your OAB. Is it the acids of citrus and tomatoes? The lactic acid in dairy products like aged cheese, yogurt, or sour cream? Or is it the caffeine in dark chocolates, sodas, tea, and coffee? Start by excluding a food or drink you think may be aggravating your symptoms, then add small amounts back to your diet slowly.
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Why Does Urinary Incontinence Occur With Pregnancy
Pregnancy and childbirth can cause incontinence in several ways:
- Your growing baby takes up a lot of room. As the uterus expands, it puts increased pressure on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to leakage.
- Changing progesterone levels during pregnancy can weaken the pelvic floor. Increases in this hormone loosen up your ligaments and joints so the belly can expand and so you can deliver. But it can also loosen ligaments in the pelvis that help you hold in urine.
- Childbirth, particularly vaginal delivery, can stretch and weaken the pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to pelvic organ prolapse, in which your bladder, uterus, or rectum droops into the vaginal canal. Prolapse can be associated with urinary incontinence.
- Vaginal delivery also can result in pelvic muscle and nerve injury, which can result in bladder control problems.
If you experience urinary incontinence during pregnancy, you are at higher risk of having a persistent problem after birth. Tell your health care provider about urinary incontinence symptoms as soon as you notice them during pregnancy or at your first postnatal visit.
More than 80% of postpartum women who experience SUI symptoms during pregnancy may continue to experience stress incontinence without treatment.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Leaking Urine
Each type of incontinence can happen for different reasons, but there are some universal factors that can make incontinence more likely. According to MedlinePlus, adults are more likely to develop urinary incontinence if they:
Having a birth defect that affects the structure of your urinary tract can also raise your risk. Your risk is also higher if a close family member has urinary incontinence, especially urge incontinence, per the Mayo Clinic.
Many times, people with no risk factors can experience urinary incontinence. “Almost 70% of urge incontinence is idiopathic, meaning we don’t know what causes it to happen in otherwise perfectly healthy people,” says Dr. Sheyn.
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Why Does Urinary Incontinence Happen
There are two main types of urinary incontinence:
- Stress incontinence
- Urge incontinence
“Stress incontinence occurs when your pelvic floor muscles the muscles that support your bladder and urethra weaken, either due to childbirth or over time,” says Dr. Lindo.
If you’re experiencing stress incontinence, you might find yourself leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise or lift something heavy.
“Urge incontinence, on the other hand, occurs when the bladder muscle squeezes to empty out urine when it is not supposed to. It may be due to the amount or type of fluids you drink, resulting in spasms,” explains Dr. Lindo. “Additionally, urgency incontinence can sometimes be a sign of a larger health complication, such as a bladder infection.”
With urge incontinence, you likely experience an overwhelming, sudden need to urinate and leak urine before you can make it to the bathroom.
“For many women the exact cause of their urge urinary incontinence is unknown,” adds Dr. Lindo. “However, there are many treatments that can help you manage symptoms.”
How Is Leaking Urine Diagnosed
Your doctor will have to determine the type of urinary incontinence you have.
Starting a few days ahead of your appointment, your doctor might ask you to keep a bladder diary, MedlinePlus says. The diary would track how much and when you drink liquids, when and how much you urinate, and whether you leak urine.
During the appointment, your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms and perform a physical exam. This might include a rectal exam and, for women, a pelvic exam. They might also have you cough or do some other simple maneuver that can initiate the leaking.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor might also run some tests, including:
- Urine and/or blood tests
- Imaging tests
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Eating To Reduce Constipation
Sometimes constipation can place extra pressure on your bladder. You can prevent constipation by exercising regularly and including more fiber in your diet. Foods high in fiber include beans, whole-wheat breads, fruits, and vegetables.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends eating 2 tablespoons of a mixture of 1 cup of applesauce, 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran, and 3/4 cup of prune juice every morning to promote bowel regularity.
Urinary Incontinence In Men
Bladder leakage in men can be caused by a birth defect of the urinary tract.
Men also have the risk of contracting urinary incontinence with a history of prostate cancer. The treatment from radiation and medication may result in temporary or permanent bladder leakage.
An enlarged prostate without cancer cells may lead to a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. This condition causes the prostate to expand and apply pressure to the urethra, resulting in the walls of the bladder also expanding and thickening. Over time, the bladder weakens and retains some volume after urination.
How To Get Help For Female Urinary Incontinence
Still feeling unsure about your first step? Remember, incontinence doesnt have to stop you from enjoying daily life on your terms. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment can be a life changer.
If you think that you might have urinary incontinence, reach out to one of our primary care doctors. Well answer any questions you may have and guide you to treatment that will work for you. If specialty care is needed, well refer you to our team of compassionate urogynecology specialists.
Ways To Treat Bladder Leakage
With so many bladder leakage products and treatment options, how do you know what is the best one for you?
First, be sure to check in with your urologist or urogynecologist to see what may be causing your bladder leakage. Knowing the cause will help you and your doctor decide what treatment option will work best for you. While certain drinks, foods and medications may stimulate your bladder, there are other medical reasons that can cause your symptoms, including:
- Urinary tract infections
- Weakened pelvic floor, sometimes caused by pregnancy, childbirth, menopause or having had a hysterectomy
- Neurological disorders
Depending on what is causing your urinary incontinence, a unique treatment plan should be developed based on your personal situation, says Nina Bhatia, M.D., urogynecologist at Hackensack Meridian Health. There are several lifestyle changes, including bladder retraining techniques, dietary changes, avoiding bladder irritants, pelvic floor exercises and pelvic floor physical therapy that can help tremendously. If those fail to provide you relief, there are non-surgical and surgical options that we can offer.
What Are The Symptoms Of Incontinence
The main symptom of incontinence is a leakage of urine. This could be a constant dripping of urine or an occasional experience of leakage. If you have incontinence, you might have large amounts or small amounts of leaked urine. You might experience leakage for a wide variety of reasons often depending on the type of incontinence you have.
You might leak urine when you:
- Have an urge to urinate, but cant make it to the toilet on time.
- Have to get up in the middle of night to urinate .
How To Prevent A Leaky Bladder
- Limit or avoid excess caffeine intake through coffee, tea, and carbonated beverages.
- Perform Kegel exercises on regular basis to maintain strength of pelvic floor muscles.
- Avoid fluid intake for several hours before bedtime.
- Limit fluid intake throughout the day, but keep hydrated.
- Avoid smoking as tobacco use increases risk of bladder cancer, which can cause bladder leaks.
- Maintain a healthy weight as obesity can lead to bladder leakage.
- Urinate after sexual intercourse to eliminate bacteria from the urethra.
- Limit or avoid spicy foods, acidic foods, and artificial sweeteners, as they increase fluid output.
- Use caution with diuretics to prevent bladder leakage from frequent urination.
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Other Types Of Bladder Leakage
- Mixed Incontinence: This label is given to bladder leakage conditions that stem from more than one form of incontinence, whether stress, urge, functional, or overflow. Women can be often diagnosed with stress and urge incontinence at the same time.
- Transient Incontinence: A transient incontinence refers to a temporary condition of a bladder leakage. It is often seen with complications after surgery, an irritated bladder, chronic constipation, and as a side effect of some diuretic and sleep-induced medication.
- Total Incontinence: A total loss of bladder function is referred to as total incontinence. This may be a result of nerve or bladder damage or disease that hinders the regular functioning of the bladder. Some cases of multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries may see a malfunction of the bladder to store urine.
What The Doctor Does
Doctors first ask questions about the person’s symptoms and medical history. Doctors then do a physical examination. What they find during the history and physical examination often suggests a cause of the incontinence and the tests that may need to be done.
Doctors ask questions about the circumstances of urine loss, including amount, time of day, and any precipitating factors . People are asked whether they can sense the need to urinate and, if so, whether the sensation is normal or comes with sudden urgency. Doctors may also ask the person to estimate the amount of urine leakage. Doctors will also ask whether the person has any additional problems with urination, such as pain or burning during urination, a frequent need to urinate, difficulty starting urination, or a weak urine stream.
Sometimes doctors may ask people to keep a record of their urination habits over a day or two. This record is called a voiding diary. Each time the person urinates, the volume and time are recorded. After an episode of incontinence, the person also records any related activities, especially eating, drinking, drug use, or sleep.
Although urodynamic testing is important, results do not always predict response to drug treatment or assess the relative importance of multiple causes.
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Control Your Urge To Urinate
You may be able to control, or suppress, the strong urge to urinate, which is called urge or urgency suppression. With this type of bladder training, you can worry less about finding a bathroom in a hurry. Some people distract themselves to take their minds off needing to urinate. Other people find that long, relaxing breaths or holding still can help. Doing pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor also can help control the urge to urinate. Quick, strong squeezes of the pelvic floor muscles can help suppress urgency when it occurs, which may help you get to the toilet before you leak.
How To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises
First, you need to locate your pelvic floor muscles, which you can do by trying to stop your flow of urine mid-stream. Exercises should be performed at first by sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, and your elbows rested on your knees.
Two types of exercises, called slow contraction and fast contraction, should be performed to give your pelvic floor a full workout. Always do the slow contraction exercises first and then the fast contraction exercises.
To practice slow contraction exercises:
- Draw up your muscles surrounding your anus as if you are trying to stop yourself passing gas. However, do not squeeze your buttock muscles.
- Also, draw up the muscles around your urethra as if you are trying to stop urine flow.
- Hold this position for as long as you can. You may only be able to hold this contraction for a couple of seconds at first, but the goal is to hold for a count of 10 seconds.
- Slowly relax and let go for 10 seconds.
- Gradually increase the time you hold the contraction and repeat until your muscles begin to feel tired.
To practice fast contraction exercises:
- Draw up the muscles surrounding your anus and urethra as before.
- Hold the contraction for 1 second and then let go and relax.
- Repeat the contractions up to 10 times or until your muscles tire.
Try to come up with an exercise plan that includes 10 slow contractions and three sets of 10 fast contractions twice per day.
The following tips may help you to increase your success with bladder training:
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When Should I See A Doctor About Incontinence
Its important to know that incontinence can be treated. Many people believe that its something that just goes along with aging and is an unavoidable issue. If you find that incontinence is disturbing your daily activities and causing you to miss out on things you typically enjoy, talk to your healthcare provider. There are a wide range of options to treat incontinence.
What Causes Bladder Leaks
There are two main types of urinary incontinence:
If you have this type, activities that raise the pressure inside your abdomen cause urine to leak through the ring of muscle in your bladder that normally holds it in. Coughing, sneezing, jumping and lifting heavy objects could lead to a leak.
Going through childbirth, smoking or being overweight can raise the risk of stress incontinence for women, Wright says. Stress incontinence in men is rare, and when it arises, its often due to prostate cancer treatment, such as radiation or surgery.
With this type, your brain, spinal cord and bladder dont work together properly to allow you to hold and release urine at the right time. Your bladder may suddenly empty itself without warning. Or you may feel like you need to urinate frequently, a problem called overactive bladder.
Some diseases that affect the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis or stroke, can cause this kind of incontinence, says Wright. In men, an enlarged prostate may be the culprit. But in many cases, doctors dont know what causes urge incontinence.
It is possible to have both types of incontinence at the same time.
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From Leaking Urine To Sudden Urges To Go: An Ob
You dont have to suffer in silence there are many treatment options available.
Whether its a few drops of leaking urine or a complete emptying of the bladder, incontinence is a bladder control issue that women are twice as likely to have as men. And by the time a womanhas made an appointment to talk about what shes dealing with, she has had enough.
Incontinence can be embarrassing, super annoying, and costly. But you dont have to suffer in silence there are many treatment options available.
How Do I Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are a simple way to build strength in your pelvic floor muscles. These exercises are done by lifting, holding and then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. You can find these muscles by stopping the flow of urine mid-stream while youre urinating. Only do this until you learn how to find the muscles stopping the flow of urine mid-stream isnt healthy over a long period of time.
When youre doing Kegel exercises, start small. Only hold it for a few second. Over time you can slowly work your way up to longer and longer stretches of holding the muscles tight.
Unlike other types of workouts, no one can tell when youre doing Kegel exercises. Aim to do several sets of Kegel exercises twice a day.
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