Urinary incontinence can be a stressful and unavoidable problem for many women. While there are a variety of causes, the end result is the same: an inconvenient and embarrassing health condition. The good news is that depending on the cause of the urinary incontinence, there’s usually a treatment to help the woman get back her normal life.
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This is the most common type of incontinence in women. It’s usually caused by events or conditions that have stretched the muscles of the pelvic floor. Childbirth is the most common cause, but severe weight gain is another. When stress is placed on the pelvic floor muscles, the muscles weaken and become unable to properly support the bladder. When this happens, the bladder pushes against the vagina and prevents the muscles surrounding the urethra from closing all the way. This undue pressure on the bladder means the woman will leak urine when she coughs, sneezes, laughs, or exercises.
Treatment usually begins with behavioral therapies, like strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. We may recommend hydrating the body on a schedule, only consuming a certain amount of fluids at particular times of the day. Decreasing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine consumption has also proven to be fairly effective treatment. Retraining the bladder can also prove useful; more frequent emptying of the bladder can reduce or prevent leakage.
This type of incontinence is caused when the bladder muscle suddenly and involuntarily contracts and forces urine from the bladder. The cause is usually left undetermined, but some doctors believe it can be caused from emotional stress, bladder infections or irritation, or neurological conditions. The women most commonly diagnosed with this are pregnant or newly postpartum, older, or obese.
Most doctors will try to treat with behavioral therapies before proceeding with more invasive treatments. Biofeedback is usually the first method, helping women learn to recognize when their bladder is going to become overactive. Women will track when they void their bladders and when they experience leakage. Usually, they can find a pattern in reoccurring episodes. Bladder training can also be helpful as it keeps the bladder mostly free of urine, reducing incidences of leaking.
If those don’t work, we will proceed with medical treatments. There are a variety of medications on the market designed to decrease an overactive bladder. Botox injected into the bladder muscles leads to an increase in how much urine the bladder can hold without leaking. If more invasive methods are needed, doctors can perform a few different surgeries with a variety of outcomes. Some surgeries will decrease the nerve impulses going into the bladder to increase muscle control. Other surgeries can alter the bladder so it’s able to physically hold more urine.
Urinary incontinence is a treatable condition. While some women may require more invasive types of treatment, many woman are able to find success with minimally invasive procedures or a variety of behavioral therapies. If a woman is experiencing embarrassing or troubling urine leakage, they should contact their doctor for a full evaluation to start treatment sooner rather than later.