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Urinary Incontinence: More Common Than You Think
How to Stop Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary and unintentional leaking of urine. Urinary incontinence can also be an embarrassing problem. As with many potentially embarrassing or uncomfortable symptoms, those affected may be hesitant to speak up or ask questions about their condition, even at the doctor’s office. Urinary incontinence occurs more often in women than in men, and it is a lot more common than you might expect. In fact, chances are that you know other people who have been affected by urinary incontinence.
Incontinence must not be a source of embarrassment when you speak with your physician. The fact is that this common condition is treatable by a variety of approaches, and not speaking up about the problem means that you won’t have access to effective treatments:
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Millions of women experience involuntary loss of urine called urinary incontinence . Some women may lose a few drops of urine while running or coughing. Others may feel a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine. Many women experience both symptoms. UI can be slightly bothersome or totally debilitating. For some women, the risk of public embarrassment keeps them from enjoying many activities with their family and friends. Urine loss can also occur during sexual activity and cause tremendous emotional distress.
- at night to urinate
What Are Some Of The Different Types Of Urinary Incontinence
The following are some of the different types of urinary incontinence:
Urgency incontinence: This is the inability to hold urine long enough to reach a restroom. It can be associated with having to urinate often and feeling a strong, sudden urge to urinate. It can be a separate condition, but it may also be an indication of other diseases or conditions that would also warrant medical attention.
Stress incontinence: This is the leakage of urine during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects or performing other body movements that put pressure on the bladder.
Functional incontinence: This is urine leakage due to a difficulty reaching a restroom in time because of physical conditions, such as arthritis, injury or other disabilities.
Overflow incontinence. Leakage occurs when the quantity of urine produced exceeds the bladders capacity to hold it.
Q Why Do Younger Women Suffer From Urinary Incontinence
Teenagers and young women involved in sports are more likely to suffer from urinary incontinence. Women who are parachuters and gymnasts suffer from urinary incontinence as hitting the ground might cause weakening of the pelvic muscles. Some pre-existing or genetic issues also cause this problem. Weak pelvic muscles can run in the family. Activities like running or weightlifting can also make the pelvic floor muscles weak.
According to research, women who are sexually active also are more likely to report similar issues than women who are sexually inactive.
This clears up the common misconception that only pregnant and older women can suffer from this issue. Women who have not experienced childbirth can have weaker pelvic muscles too. But their issue can get worse after pregnancy. The risks of urinary incontinence are more among young women whose mothers suffer from similar problems.
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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Behavioral And Lifestyle Changes For Bladder Leakage Treatment
Bladder leakage treatment is based on the underlying cause and type of urine incontinence. Both men and women may face similar challenges within the treatment plan that may include urgency suppression, bladder training, and lifestyle changes.
A treatment plan usually begins with behavioral and lifestyle changes such as exercises for leaky bladder. Medications may be required alongside behavioral tasks to reduce muscle spasms or health conditions such as prostate enlargement. In severe cases, surgical procedures may be necessary.
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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Urinary Incontinence In Women
Bladder leakage in women may develop during development in the womb with the urinary tract as a birth defect or may be related to the genetics as it can be a family trait.
The racial background of a woman may also dictate urinary incontinence as Caucasians have a higher risk than those of African American, Asian American, and Hispanic/Latin descent.
Pregnancy often sees an increase in the urge to urinate as the growing fetus can place pressure on the bladder. This may cause temporary bladder leakage.
Bladder leakage in women may also be caused by damage to the pelvic floor muscles during childbirth as they can be overstretched.
Urinary incontinence may become a more permanent issue after childbirth or surgery as a result of pelvic organ prolapse disorder. This condition may see the bladder drop out of normal positioning.
Hormonal changes to the female body as seen during menopause can cause urinary incontinence. The reduction of hormones produced result in weakness of the bladder and urethra linings.
What Are Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises, also called Kegels or pelvic floor muscle training, are exercises for your pelvic floor muscles to help prevent or reduce stress urinary incontinence. Your pelvic floor muscles support your uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum.
Four in 10 women improved their symptoms after trying Kegels.9 Kegels can be done daily and may be especially helpful during pregnancy. They can help prevent the weakening of pelvic floor muscles, which often happens during pregnancy and childbirth. Your pelvic floor muscles may also weaken with age and less physical activity.
Some women have urinary symptoms because the pelvic floor muscles are always tightened. In this situation, Kegel exercises will not help your urinary symptoms and may cause more problems. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your urinary symptoms before doing Kegel exercises.
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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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Urinary Incontinence In Women
What happens if urinary incontinence is left untreated?What happens if urinary incontinence is left untreated?
Having urinary incontinence may affect your life in many areas. It can cause problems with work and leisure activities and lead to problems in your relationships and sex life. You may feel less like going out and become socially isolated, anxious and even depressed. Many women dont seek medical help, perhaps because they feel embarrassed. But theres a lot of help available, and things that you can do yourself to help improve your symptoms. For more information, see our sections on self-help and treatment.
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There Are Different Types
If you experience incontinence when you sneeze, cough, or exercise, you may have stress incontinence, which is leakage from added pressure on the abdomen that pushes urine past the urethra.
If you stand up and are unable to hold off on emptying your bladder before you reach the bathroom, you may have urge incontinence, otherwise known as an overactive bladder.
Many women have a combination of stress and urge incontinence called mixed incontinence. And although less likely, some women experience overflow, a rare condition which causes frequent urinary leaks due to a constant full bladder.
It Takes More Than A Few Kegels To Fix It
Instead of seeking treatment for incontinence, many women try to “deal with it” on their own by changing their exercise routines, trying Kegel exercises, even resorting to wearing sanitary napkins to absorb bladder leaks.
Unfortunately, instead of getting medical treatment a lot of women try to deal with urinary incontinence on their own. They might stop running or doing other exercises that cause bladder leaks, or otherwise modify their lifestyle. Or, women might try doing Kegels at home or just resort to wearing pads,” said Eutsler.
Half of women who have the condition never mention it to their doctors out of embarrassment, or because they think bladder leaks are a normal part of the aging process. Getting older does increase the likelihood of experiencing bladder leaks, or making it worse, in part because muscles including those in the pelvic floor lose tone as we age.
If you’ve experienced consistent bladder control issues for at least three months, you should seek medical treatment. Your primary care doctor, gynecologist or urologist can guide your incontinence care.
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Treatments For Urgency Incontinence
Urgency incontinence is when you get the urge to go, and if you dont make it to a bathroom, your bladder will empty. It can have serious effects on your life and your work.
Experts dont know what causes urgency incontinence, but there are different ways to approach it. First we start with behavioral changes, which vary based on your situation. Steps could include:
Weight loss again, losing even a small amount of weight can help.
Avoiding excess fluids. If youre having trouble sleeping, we talk about limiting fluids before bedtime so sleep is less interrupted.
Time voiding, which is retraining the bladder. If the patient is in the bathroom every hour, well slowly lengthen that interval so theyre in the bathroom less often.
Pelvic floor exercises, with help from a physical therapist.
Changing your diet. I review a list of bladder irritants: coffee, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods, and other things. We have patients skip those foods and drinks for a week or two and see what their urgency or frequency is like.
If behavioral changes dont help, there are other options to explore. We can try certain medications that relax your bladder muscles and prevent leakage. Botox, injected into the muscles of the bladder, can help some patients temporarily. And there are several medications we can try, including anticholinergics, which block the impulse to urinate. This can help you get more sleep at night.
It Could Be A Sign Of An Underlying Condition
Naturally, later in life, people can experience incontinence because of increased production of urine related to aging kidneys. Bladder function is also heavily impacted by changing bladder capacity and chronic medical conditions like diabetes, says Fairchild. Chronic straining, coughing and/or constipation can all put stress on the bladder, she explains.
But leakage can also be sign of a more serious, underlying health condition, according to a 2018 National Poll on Healthy Aging.” For example, poor heart function could be the culprit behind frequent urination while sleeping.
If fluid is pooling in your legs during the day, when you lay down, that fluid redistributes and increases urine production, says Fairchild.
Although bladder leakage is common, discuss your particular symptoms with your doctor.
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Menopause And Urinary Incontinence
You dont have to accept occasional bladder leakage as another side effect of menopause or aging. In many cases, there are things you can do to stop and even prevent urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is also known as loss of bladder control or involuntary urinary leakage. Millions of women experience it, and the frequency of UI tends to increase as you get older. The loss of control can be very minor. For example, you might only leak a few drops of urine when you laugh, exercise, cough, or pick up heavy objects. Or you might experience a sudden urge to urinate and be unable to keep it in before reaching the restroom, resulting in an accident.
You can experience UI throughout your life, but most episodes are the result of pressure or stress on the muscles that help you hold or pass urine. Hormone changes can also affect your muscle strength in the pelvic region. Therefore, UI is more common in women who are pregnant, giving birth, or going through menopause.
Estrogen is a hormone that helps regulate your menstruation. It may protect against heart disease and slow bone loss. It also helps keep your bladder and urethra healthy and functioning properly. As you near menopause, your estrogen levels begin dropping. This lack of estrogen may cause your pelvic muscles to weaken. They may no longer be able to control your bladder as they did before. As your estrogen levels continue to drop throughout and after menopause, your UI symptoms may become worse.
How Do I Do Kegel Exercises
To do Kegels:
If you are uncomfortable or uncertain about doing Kegel exercises on your own, a doctor or nurse can also teach you how to do Kegels. A pelvic floor physical therapist or other specialist may also be available in your area to help teach you how to strengthen these muscles.
Learn More About Sudden Onset Urinary Incontinence
Dealing with sudden onset urinary incontinence is difficult, but it does not have to be forever.
The sooner you make an appointment to discuss this with your doctor, the sooner you can go back to living your life without worry.
To learn more about what treatments are best for you, contact us and schedule a consultation.
When Should You See A Doctor For Leaking Urine
Incontinence is common but not normal, says Sapienza. “I think suffer in silence thinking that they can’t get help, but it is treatable,” she says.
Some patients aren’t concerned with a few leaks here or there, and if it’s truly not bothering you, then you likely don’t need to see anyone, says Dr. Sheyn.
However, if you’re altering your life in order to manage symptoms, then talk to a doctor. For instance, maybe when you go to a new place, you immediately scout out a bathroom to make sure you know where to dash off to if the time comes. Or maybe you decline invitations out because you can’t be sure of the bathroom situation. Maybe you live in black leggings to hide urine leaks, something that patients often tell Sapienza they do.
You should also talk to your doctor if you’re leaking urine frequently. Besides the impact it can have on your social, work, and personal relationships, regular urinary incontinence can also lead to physical complications like skin problemsrashes, skin infections, and sores can develop from constantly wet skinand urinary tract infections. There’s this too: Chronic incontinence might be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, and that’s something you’d want to get checked out.
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