Urinary Incontinence (bladder incontinence)
If you “pee yourself” when you cough, sneeze, laugh hard or lift something you may have what’s known as urinary continence.
It’s a condition most people associate with “little old ladies,” but it’s one that can occur to women of any age. It’s more common if you’re a woman, but men can also experience it.
What is urinary incontinence?
In layman terms, it is the involuntary and unintended leakage of urine from the bladder. The amount of urine that escapes is usually small, relatively speaking, and is embarrassing when noticeable and can significantly impact your quality of life.
There are different types of incontinence, all of which result in unintended bladder leakage. The good news is that it is treatable and the treatment method will depend upon the underlying cause.
Types of urinary incontinence
It’s important to know that you’re not alone. Involuntary leakage can occur for any number of reasons and it is much more common than you think. The most common forms of incontinence include:
- Stress incontinence – is the most common type, especially for women who have given birth or have gone through menopause. Leakage occurs when extra pressure is placed on the muscles and bladder from coughing, sneezing, laughing, heavy lifting and exercise
- Urge incontinence – is commonly referred to as “overactive bladder.” It happens when the muscles of the bladder wall suddenly contract, resulting in an urge to urinate that can’t be stopped no matter what you do. Urge incontinence can occur if you suddenly change positions, during sex, and for some women, when they hear running water
- Mixed incontinence – is a combination of stress and urge incontinence
- Functional incontinence – is most common among the elderly. When this type occurs, you know you need to urinate, but can’t make it to the bathroom in time. It can happen due to mobility issues, dexterity problems, confusion and dementia
- Gross total incontinence – this involves a continuous leakage and/or large amounts of urine, typically resulting from an injury
Risk factors associated with urinary incontinence
Some women are at greater risk of developing urinary incontinence than others. The following factors have been linked to bladder leakage:
- Obesity – places additional pressure on the bladder and surrounding muscles
- Diabetes – can result in neurological damage affecting the bladder and surrounding structures
- Smoking – smokers often have a chronic cough that can result in leakage when they cough
- Pregnancy and childbirth – can weaken the muscle structure surrounding the bladder
- Menopause – urinary incontinence is common during perimenopause due to weakened pelvic floor muscles, but the condition doesn’t get worse because of menopause
- Advanced age – the bladder muscles and urethra weaken as people age
- Some surgical procedures
- Heavy alcohol use
Some medications have also been implicated in the onset or worsening of urinary incontinence, but they’re not the actual cause.
Urinary Incontinence Treatment
A treatment plan will depend on multiple factors and Dr. Cook can help you narrow down the exact cause of your urinary incontinence and any underlying factors.
Kegel exercises may be recommended to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor which will also help with bladder control. A program for retraining the bladder may also be effective for increasing the time between urination and lessening leaks in the intervals.
Lifestyle changes can also be beneficial. Limiting alcohol, carbonated and caffeinated drinks, along with overall liquid intake, can help alleviate urinary incontinence. Eliminating spicy foods may also help, as they can cause bladder irritation.
Dr. Cook might also prescribe certain medications. If for some reason you can’t take any of the medications developed for urinary incontinence, Botox® injections have also proven effective for relaxing bladder muscles, thereby increasing its capacity and reducing the potential for leakage.
Other options include devices to support the bladder and surgery may be indicated when other methods don’t provide sufficient relief. Surgical options are designed to support the bladder, urethra, and ensure the organs are in the proper position.
Dr. Cook also offers non-surgical ThermiVA™ treatments for vaginal tightening that can help with urinary control.
Take back control of your bladder
You don’t have to live with the embarrassment of urinary incontinence and you don’t have to resort to wearing adult incontinence garments. If you have any of the symptoms of incontinence, begin by talking to your gynecologist. It’s especially important that you do so if you’re avoiding social events, feeling depressed, or shying away from social interactions.
Multiple treatments for urinary incontinence are available and your gynecologist will work with you to determine which will best fit your needs and individual lifestyle to take back control of your bladder for a better quality of life.
For same day appointments please call us at (770) 431-2322. We make every effort to respond to your request right away during regular business hours.