It is not uncommon for women to experience incontinence during pregnancy or as they age. Men can also suffer from incontinence, but it is two times more common in females due to the structural differences in our urinary tracts, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and other issues. At South Lake OB/GYN in Clermont, FL, we can help you overcome female incontinence and live with more confidence.
Treating Female Incontinence: Understanding the Types
Short-term incontinence is usually related to medications or something like a urinary tract infection. When the medication is stopped or changed or the infection cleared up, the incontinence goes away, too. But there are two types of long-term incontinence to be aware of:
Urge incontinence is an urge to pass urine, but the inability to hold it until reaching the restroom because of improper bladder contractions. A bladder that contains only a small amount of urine may still experience this urge. This can be caused by disorders of the nervous system such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injuries. However, in most cases urge incontinence is caused by unknown factors.
This condition may worsen if you are taking diuretics, are under a lot of stress, have uncontrolled diabetes, or have hyperthyroidism. It is possible for some patients to pass urine when they are touched by water, hear water or drink water. Behavioral remedies, medicine, injections, physical therapy, and surgery can all be used to treat this type of incontinence.
Incontinence of this type is the most common type. Menopause, pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, pregnancy, and menopause all cause this condition. The bladder presses against the vagina as a result of the weakening of vaginal and pelvic floor muscles and the ligaments that support them. This weakens the sphincter muscles which control urine passage. Consequently, urine leaks during certain situations, such as when sneezing and coughing, exercising, or even when laughing.
In the weeks prior to menstruation and during menopause, muscle pressure around the urethra may worsen due to lack of estrogen hormones, exacerbating the incontinence.
Treating Female Incontinence: Options
There are a number of options available to treat female incontinence, and the right option for you will depend on your specific situation. Your first step is to visit us for a consultation. We’ll discuss your symptoms as well as your general health, and from there help you develop a plan to address the incontinence. The goal is always to use the simplest treatments first and go on from there only as necessary.
A number of medications can be prescribed, though some of them are most appropriate only in emergency situations. These might include beta-3 agonists, beta-3 adrenergic receptor stimulators, or antimuscarinics, such as oxybutynin and tolterodine.
Botox, or botulinum toxin A, can also be used to treat some instances of incontinence.
In women with overflow incontinence, catheters may be needed to empty their bladders. A catheter may be needed once in a while, a few times a day, or all the time. A pessary is another possibility for women. This is a soft plastic ring that you insert into your vagina. Your vagina and nearby urethra are pressured by the pessary. You have less leaking when the urethra is held up by pressure.
Electrical nerve stimulation might be a good option if you have tried other ways to stay dry, including medicines and lifestyle changes but haven’t had any success. The process of electrical nerve stimulation involves using pulses of electricity to change your bladder’s reflexes.
Pelvic Floor Therapy
Pain, weakness, and dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles can be addressed with pelvic floor physical therapy. Your symptoms will dictate what type of therapy you need. Depending on the symptoms, some muscles may need to be relaxed and lengthened, while others may need to be strengthened.
In many cases, pelvic floor dysfunction and the symptoms it causes can be treated with this therapy, which will then relieve the incontinence.
What Can I Do At Home?
There are some things you can do at home to address incontinence. If your symptoms are mild, these alone might be enough. In many cases, they are most appropriate to accompany treatments and therapy from qualified medical professionals.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
When you urinate, you can feel the muscles in your pelvic floor if you try to stop the flow of urine. These exercises are quite easy to explain: simply squeeze the muscles in your pelvic floor ten to fifteen times in a row to strengthen them. Keep your stomach, buttocks, and thighs relaxed at the same time.
Try holding the squeezes for a few seconds when you become more familiar with doing pelvic floor exercises. You can gradually increase the number of squeezes every week, but be careful not to overdo it, and always take a rest between squeeze sets.
You may need to perform these exercises for three months before you see any benefits. Personalized pelvic floor exercises work best, so ask us about the best way to design your exercises around your own symptoms, health, and lifestyle.
When you smoke, you put your pelvic floor muscles under strain, which can lead to incontinence. If you’re a smoker, talk to us about resources that can help you quit.
Perform the Right Exercises
Exercises that put a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor muscles because of their intensity may result in leakage. You can also leak if you strain your pelvic floor muscles while doing sit-ups. To relieve symptoms, replace jogging and aerobics classes with less intensive exercise.
Fat tissue can put pressure on the bladder, weakening your pelvic floor muscles and causing incontinence. Losing excess weight may improve your symptoms and you may even be able to get rid of them completely. Of course, losing weight is easier said than done for all of us, so be sure to talk to us about your concerns. We can help you devise a diet and exercise plan that will work for you.
Address Any Constipation Issues
Your pelvic floor muscles become weak when you strain to empty your bowels, which aggravates the leakage. Emptying your bowels whenever you feel the urge is imperative. A change in diet and lifestyle may help you if you suffer from constipation. Consuming more fiber can help, as well as engaging in more physical activity.
Consume Less Caffeine and Alcohol
Incontinence can be made worse by caffeine, which irritates the bladder. You should stop drinking coffee or switch to decaffeinated coffee if you want the biggest effect. You can also reduce your caffeine intake by drinking water instead of soft drinks, teas, and cocoa. If you drink less soda, this will also likely have a positive effect on your weight, even if you’ve been drinking diet sodas.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes you to urinate more frequently. Quitting may help relieve incontinence symptoms.
Drink More Water
People with urinary incontinence often avoid drinking fluids because they believe it will only make things worse. By restricting your fluid intake, however, you actually make incontinence worse since your bladder’s capacity is reduced. Drinking alcohol or caffeine can be a problem, but getting enough water is always a health positive.
Your doctor may advise you to limit your fluid intake if you suffer from certain medical conditions, though, so talk to us about this issue before restricting your water intake.
Visit Us for More Help
If you’re suffering from female incontinence, come see us at South Lake OB/GYN in Clermont, FL. We have the resources you need and can help you regain your confidence in every situation.