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.
What Causes Bladder Leakage
Understanding why your bladder is leaking can help you figure out how to stop it. Here are some of the most common reasons for bladder leakage:
- Pregnancy and childbirth. So many of us understand the sneeze pee. You know, when youre pregnant or just had a baby and you sneeze andyup, you pee your pants? Be patient with yourself if this is happening. Glory in the fact that your body has changed a whole lot to get a child here. Bladder leakage with pregnancy is not unusual and usually goes away after a few months postpartum.
- Structure of your urinary tract. Sometimes its just the way were made. Bladder leakage is more common in females because of the way our urinary tracts are made. I knowits annoying. Feel free to remind the men in your life just how great they have it.
- Disease. Unfortunately, there are several diseases that make it difficult for the nerves that control your bladder to keep functioning. Diabetes, Parkinsons, and multiple sclerosis for example, can damage nerves and make you more prone to leakage.
- Poor kidney function. This is usually associated with aging. If you are constantly leaking or dealing with multiple urinary tract infections, talk to your doctor. This could indicate a more serious problem.
- Medications. If you just started a new medication and your bladder starting leaking around the same time, talk to your doctor. You might be able to switch to something else or adjust your dosage.
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.
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Will I Have Incontinence For My Entire Life
Sometimes incontinence is a short-term issue that will go away once the cause ends. This is often the case when you have a condition like a urinary tract infection . Once treated, frequent urination and leakage problems caused by a UTI typically end. This is also true for some women who experience bladder control issues during pregnancy. For many, the issues end in the weeks after delivery. However, other causes of incontinence are long-term and related to conditions that are managed throughout your life. If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or multiple sclerosis, you may have incontinence for a long period of time. In those cases, its important to talk to your provider about the best ways to manage your incontinence so that it doesnt interfere with your life.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It can be embarrassing to talk about bathroom habits with your healthcare provider. This embarrassment shouldnt stop you from treating incontinence, though. Often, your healthcare provider can help figure out the cause of your bladder control issue and help make it better. You dont need to deal with it alone. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best ways to treat incontinence so that you can lead a full and active life without worrying about leakage.
Types And Causes Of Urinary Incontinence
If you constantly feel like youve peed your pants, first of all, we want you to know you are not alone, girlfriend. It is the worst, isnt it? Not only is it totally embarrassing and uncomfortable, it can also cause a lot of concern. Why is this happening? What can I do about it? How do I hide it? I mean, we used to joke about using padded underwear when we were teens and now suddenly, we need it? Ugh.
But dont worry. There are some things you can do to help control bladder leakage and different types of urinary incontinence, so you can deal with it and have a great day.
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You Might Be Dehydrated
It might seem counterintuitive, but when your body is losing fluids, your kidneys can tend to feel pressure and an urge to go. Plus, if youre rapidly trying to replace fluids because youre dehydrated, youre naturally going to need to pee more often, according to Cleveland Clinic. And if you add coffee and alcohol to the mix, youre likely to have to go even more, as both are diuretics.
You Have Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths that can grow in and on your uterus, are the most common benign tumors in women of childbearing age, per the U.S. Library of Medicine. Sometimes these tumors make their unwanted presence known by forcing you to pee all the time. This usually happens when a fibroid becomes large and presses on your bladder, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
If youre experiencing symptoms you think are due to fibroids, try talking to your doctor. Theres a wealth of treatment options for the symptoms, from birth control to reduce pain and bleeding to a myomectomy to a hysterectomy and more.
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Why Does Pregnancy Cause Incontinence
During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of physical changes. As your uterus stretches to hold the growing baby, a few things happen. Your bladder can be squished by the expanding baby, making your bladder hold less than before. You might experience an increased urgency to pee during pregnancy because your bladder cannot hold as much as before. This might become even more challenging towards the end of pregnancy when the baby is at its largest.
Another reason for incontinence during pregnancy is the weakening of your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are the support structures for all of the organs in your pelvis. During pregnancy, they can be stretched and weakened as your uterus expands.
What The Caregiver Can Do
- Encourage or help the patient with appropriate skin care after using the bathroom. Use warm water and pat the area dry.
- Help the patient keep a diary that records specific foods or drinks that may affect how frequently the patient goes to the bathroom.
- Help the patient maintain a bladder or bowel plan.
- Encourage the patient to go to the bathroom at consistent time frames during the day, like after a meal.
- Encourage regular daily exercise, as permitted by the health care team.
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Types Of Urinary Incontinence
There are different types of incontinence:
- Stress incontinence occurs when urine leaks as pressure is put on the bladder, such as during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects. Its the most common type of bladder control problem in younger and middle-aged women. It also may begin later, around the time of menopause.
- Urge incontinence happens when people have a sudden need to urinate and cannot hold their urine long enough to get to the toilet. It may be a problem for people who have diabetes, Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.
- Overflow incontinence happens when small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. A man can have trouble emptying his bladder if an enlarged prostate is blocking the urethra. Diabetes and spinal cord injuries can also cause this type of incontinence.
- Functional incontinence occurs in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a problem getting to the toilet because of arthritis or other disorders that make it hard to move quickly.
How Soon After Starting Kegel Exercises Will Urinary Incontinence Get Better
It may take 4 to 6 weeks before you notice any improvement in your symptoms.10
Kegel exercises work differently for each person. Your symptoms may go away totally, you may notice an improvement in your symptoms but still have some leakage, or you may not see any improvement at all. But even if your symptoms dont get better, Kegel exercises can help prevent your incontinence from getting worse.
You may need to continue doing Kegel exercises for the rest of your life. Even if your symptoms improve, urinary incontinence can come back if you stop doing the exercises.
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How Does Incontinence Relate To Age
Incontinence should not be considered to be a normal condition of aging. Elderly patients should be evaluated in essentially the same way that patients of any age should be evaluated. Incontinence is certainly more common as patients age, but incontinence can be seen in children, adolescents, and adults.
Bladder Leakage Causes Symptoms & Treatments
Experience bladder leaks? Use this guide to understand the causes of bladder leaks, signs and symptoms, as well as tips to prevent or stop leaks.
Female bladder leakage occurs when the muscles around your bladder are weakened and canât successfully close off the bladder as they should. If youâre experiencing a leaking bladder, know that youâre not alone. You likely have many questions, which is why we put together this guide to help you understand the causes of bladder leaks, the signs and symptoms, as well as tips to prevent or stop leaks.
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What Medications Can I Use For Overactive Bladder
Your doctor may suggest trying behavioral techniques before having you use a medication to treat overactive bladder. However, medications can work very well to return normal function to the bladder. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of using the following commonly prescribed medications:
These medications control muscle spasms in the bladder:
- Oxybutynin , oxybutynin XL , oxybutynin TDDS .
- Tolterodine .
- Mirabegron .
If Your Bladder Is Constantly Calling Out For Attention Its Best To Talk To A Medical Provider
Sometimes scaling back on your fluid intake or laying off bladder-irritating food and drink is exactly what your body needs. But if you try lifestyle tweaks and are still constantly speed-walking to the bathroom, something else might be going on. Even though its tougher than usual to see a doctor in person right now, theyre still dedicated to your care. With a phone call or video appointment, you can get on the road to finally putting that why am I peeing so much question to bed.
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What Behavioral Changes Can I Make To Help With Overactive Bladder
There are many techniques and changes to your typical behavior that you can try to help with an overactive bladder. These can include:
Keeping a log: During a typical day, write down your fluid intake, the number of times you urinate, the number of accidents and when they occur. Make a note about what happened when the accident happened, like when you:
- Were unable to reach the bathroom in time.
Monitoring your diet: Eliminate or decrease foods or beverages that may worsen your bladder symptoms. These could include:
- Spicy and acidic foods and drinks.
- Foods and drinks that contain artificial sweeteners.
Maintaining bowel regularity: Constipation can place added pressure on the bladder and have a negative effect on your bladder function. By keeping healthy bowel habits, you may be able to avoid constipation and help to lessen bladder symptoms. The following are some suggestions for maintaining bowel regularity:
- Increase your fiber intake by eating foods like beans, pasta, oatmeal, bran cereal, whole wheat bread, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Every morning, take 2 tablespoons of this mixture: 1 cup apple sauce, 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran, and ¾ cup prune juice.
- Exercise regularly to maintain regular bowel movements.
Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight can add pressure on your bladder, which may contribute to bladder control problems. If you are overweight, weight loss can reduce the pressure on your bladder.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
Also known as Kegel exercises, these exercises are especially effective for stress incontinence but may also help urge incontinence. To do pelvic floor muscle exercises, imagine that youre trying to stop your urine flow. Then:
- Tighten the muscles you would use to stop urinating and hold for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds.
- Work up to holding the contractions for 10 seconds at a time.
- Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions each day.
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Who Is At Risk For Urinary Incontinence
In adults, you are at higher risk of developing UI if you:
- Are female, especially after going through pregnancy, childbirth, and/or menopause
- Are older. As you age, your urinary tract muscles weaken, making it harder to hold in urine.
- Are a man with prostate problems
- Have certain health problems, such as diabetes, obesity, or long-lasting constipation
- Are a smoker
- Have a birth defect that affects the structure of your urinary tract
In children, bedwetting is more common in younger children, boys, and those whose parents wet the bed when they were children.
Medical Treatments For Nocturia
Your doctor may prescribe medications when preventive measures and lifestyle changes fail to reduce the frequency of your nighttime urination. Doctors prescribe a class of drugs called anticholinergics to treat symptoms of OAB, if thats the cause of your nocturia. They reduce bladder spasms that create the urge to go.
Your doctor may suggest you take a diuretic for regular urine production. A diuretic can itself cause nocturia. But if you take it early enough in the day, it may help you get rid of excess fluid while youre awake. This should decrease your urine production at night.
Other drugs that may help are:
- desmopression in cases of diabetes insipidus to cause the kidneys to produce less urine
- tamsulosin , finasteride , or dutasteride to treat prostate enlargement
- antibiotics if you have a urinary tract infection
Your doctor may also adjust your diabetic medications to lower your blood sugar if theyre causing nocturia.
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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.
Other Types Of Urinary Incontinence
- Overflow incontinence This occurs when a person is unable to empty their bladder completely and it overflows as new urine is produced. It’s often found in people with diabetes or spinal cord injuries.
- Mixed incontinence You show evidence of more than one type.
- Functional incontinence This type of incontinence has less to do with a bladder disorder and more to do with the logistics of getting to a bathroom in time. It’s usually found in elderly or disabled people who have normal or near normal bladder control but cannot get to the toilet in time because of mobility limitations or confusion.
- Nocturia The need to urinate twice or more during the night, usually affecting men and women over the age of 60. In men, nocturia can be a symptom of an enlarged prostate.
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What Causes Overactive Bladder
An overactive bladder can be caused by several things, or even a combination of causes. Some possible causes can include:
- Weak pelvic muscles: Pregnancy and childbirth can cause your pelvic muscles to stretch and weaken. This can cause the bladder to sag out of its normal position. All of these factors can cause leakage.
- Nerve damage: Sometimes signals are sent to the brain and bladder to empty at the wrong time. Trauma and diseases can cause this to happen. These can include:
- Pelvic or back surgery.
Often, there may be no specific explanation for why this is occurring.