An estimated two out of three women experience urinary incontinence in their lifetime. This is when the bladder leaks, leading to a wet or soiled feeling or involuntary loss of urine. It’s important to recognize the symptoms, while it’s also important to see your doctor if you think something serious might be going on.
The first step to dealing with urinary incontinence is to realize that it’s not your fault and that there is nothing wrong with you.
Urinary incontinence can be difficult for patients and those close to them because the symptoms can range from mild discomforts, such as dribbling urine at work or during exercise, all the way up to more serious issues like stress incontinence and complete leakage. This is a serious problem, and it can lead to a lot of frustration for both the patient and those around them.
Those with urinary incontinence can find help in realizing their diagnosis and getting treatment from healthcare professionals.
Causes Of Urinary Incontinence
There are a number of causes of urinary incontinence.
- Childbirth: The pressure exerted on the bladder by a baby during childbirth can sometimes weaken or tear in the urethra and the nerves or muscles in that area.
- Aging: As women age the urethra grows shorter and the pelvic floor weakens, leading to a higher risk of urinary incontinence.
- Pelvic Floor Disorders: a person with urinary incontinence can have weak pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to leaks.
- Pregnancy: The most common cause of urinary incontinence in women is pregnancy. Women who have never had any issues with urinary incontinence may find that they experience it during pregnancy. The hormone relaxin, which is naturally produced in the body during pregnancy, relaxes the pelvic tissues so that the fetus can move around more easily once it’s born. During this time, women who have never experienced urine leakage will suddenly find themselves with a full bladder when they sneeze or cough.
- Medications: certain medications may cause a person to lose control of their bladder. This is usually temporary and goes away when you stop taking that medication or switch to another one.
- Diseases: cancer of bladder, prostate or kidney, diabetes and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease can all cause urinary incontinence.
- Obesity: obesity increases your risk of developing other diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Also, being overweight puts more pressure on the urethra because there is a larger layer of fat between it and your abdominal wall. This makes it more likely to leak.
- Injury: bladder injury or damage can also lead to bladder leakage. This can happen through trauma, such as due to a car accident, workplace accident, falls and sports injuries. In some cases, it’s difficult to make the connection between what led up to the injury and the resulting leakage.
- Overactive Bladder Syndrome: the bladder contracts and squeezes before it is full.
- Neurological Conditions: damage to the spinal cord, pelvic nerve or brain, the brain may not be able to send messages properly to your bladder, which causes incontinence.
- Diabetes: blood glucose levels can drop, affecting the nerves that control the bladder.
Treatment For Urinary Incontinence.
- Kegel exercises: These exercises, which work to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, can help women who are experiencing incontinence due to a weakening of these muscles.
- Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a method that uses sensors, electrodes and special computer equipment to measure how tense a person’s pelvic floor muscles are. This allows the therapist to help you identify where the problem lies and then work on controlling those muscles.
- Bladder Training: Though some doctors may recommend surgery for incontinence, many prefer to use other approaches. To avoid surgery, a doctor may instruct you to follow a schedule where you are permitted to urinate every two hours. If symptoms remain after a month or two and you’re still experiencing urinary incontinence, a doctor could suggest that you begin bladder training and an eventual surgery.
- Surgery: Repairing your urethra can be done if symptoms are severe enough.
- Hypnosis: In this type of therapy, patients learn relaxation techniques that can help manage stress and anxiety; these techniques can also help people with urinary incontinence achieve better bladder control.
- Talk therapy: Psychotherapy is an effective method of treating urinary incontinence because it helps patients to identify, understand and change the thoughts that lead them to make unwanted urinations.