What Is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. This can turn a laughing fit or fun workout into a stressful and potentially uncomfortable situation. Here are three common types of Urinary Incontinence.
Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine during physical activities, like laughing, jumping, sneezing or lifting heavy objects. It occurs when the muscles that support the urethra are weakened or damaged. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including:
- Hormone changes
- Prior surgery
- Pelvic radiation treatment
Urge Urinary Incontinence
Urge urinary incontinence is the unintended loss of urine due to an involuntary bladder contraction. Patients often describe a sense of undeniable urge to void prior to urge incontinence episodes. Patients also report urge urinary incontinence as losing their warning time to make it to the bathroom. They often feel the need to go even if they just emptied their bladder. Urge incontinence is often associated with symptoms of frequent trips to the bathroom known as overactive bladder.
Mixed Urinary Incontinence
Mixed urinary incontinence is involuntary bladder leakage associated with a combination of both urge and stress urinary incontinence.
Who Suffers from Urinary Incontinence?
- Urinary incontinence affects more people than you might think. The important thing to remember is that although incontinence is more common as we age, urine leakage is never normal. You are not alone. There are millions of women out there just like you who experience some form of bladder leakage. 1 in 2 adult women have urinary incontinence.¹
- On average, women wait 6.5 years after having symptoms to see a doctor.²
- Less than 50% of women with bladder leakage discuss their symptoms with their doctor.³
Many women have secret strategies for managing these symptoms, like wearing liners or pads, going before leaving the house, always finding a public restroom, limiting fluids throughout the day and crossing their legs. If you're thinking, "Hey, I use some of those same strategies," then it may be time to explore your options for relief.
Just because incontinence is common, it does not mean you simply have to live with it. There are many options available to manage incontinence. Begin to explore some of the options for treatment of incontinence today and begin to work towards a return to more normal life.
Many times, conservative treatment options for stress urinary incontinence are used initially. Some of those treatment options include behavioral modification:
- Pelvic floor muscle training such as Kegal exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles.
- Use of pessaries (silicone devices fitted inside the vagina to provide support). These types of treatments may or may not inprove symptoms. When symptoms are more severe, or conservative options aren't working, procedures such as bulking agent injections or sling surgery may be an option.
- Bulking agents. There are urethral bulking agents used to treat stress urinary incontinence. These agents can be used to restore the natural closing of the urethra.
Stress urinary incontinence can be treated in several ways depending on the exact nature of the incontinence and its severity. Consult your physician to discuss all available treatment options.
¹Markland AD, Richter HE, Fwu C-W, et al. Prevalence and trends of urinary incontinence in adults in the United States, 2001 to 2008. J Urol. 2011 Aug;186(2):589-93.
²International Continence Society. Continence Promotion: Prevention, Education and Organization. https://www.ics.org/Publications/ICI_3/v1.pdf/chap1.pdf. Accessed December 13, 2021.
³Kinchen KS, Burgio K, Diokno AC, et al. Factors associated with women’s decisions to seek treatment for urinary incontinence. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2003 Sep;12(7):687-98.
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