Incontinence in Women
Incontinence in women is more common than most may realize. As a matter of fact, over 25 million adult Americans experience a form of urinary incontinence, reports Johns Hopkins Medicine. At Vitality Medical Center, we work with our patients to diagnose current and potential health problems. If you are currently suffering from a form of incontinence, we can help.
What is Urinary Incontinence in Women?
Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control, a common yet challenging problem for those that suffer from it. The range of severity for the condition stretches from mild, occasional leaking of urine (like when one sneezes or coughs). But, for others, it can be severe enough to cause an uncontrollable accident.
Statistics reveal that urinary incontinence increases with age, according to WebMD. For instance, 57 percent of women between 40 and 60 years old, and three-quarters of women 75 and older suffer from the condition. (Probably more since many conditions go undiagnosed because symptoms aren’t reported to their doctor.)
But, unlike what most may think, urinary incontinence is not an inevitability of old age. That is to say, you don’t have to suffer from incontinence when you are older. Or at any age for that matter.
If you are suffering from urinary incontinence, the team at Vitality Medical Center can prescribe treatment to help stop your symptoms and get to the root cause.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
The root cause of urinary incontinence is damage to the muscles and nerves that aid the bladder to hold or pass urine. Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause increase the likelihood of urinary incontinence because of the stress those events put on muscles that support the bladder.
But, there are other factors that can contribute to urinary incontinence that are outside of these more common sources. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Services here are other contributors to urinary incontinence:
- Being overweight. Excess weight applies pressure on the bladder, which can weaken the muscles over time.
- Chronic constipation. Chronic constipation puts stress and pressure on the pelvic floor and bladder which can also weaken bladder control muscles.
- Nerve damage. Damaged nerves from childbirth, diabetes or other health problems can result in nerve damage in the pelvic floor muscles, the urethra or the bladder. These damaged nerves can misfire signals to the bladder at the wrong time (or not at all) leading to a lack of bladder control.
- Surgery near or of the reproductive organs. Damage to the pelvic floor muscles can cause a woman’s bladder muscles to malfunction.
- Medications. Some diuretics can cause urinary incontinence. But, symptoms often resolve when you stop taking the medicine.
- Caffeine. Caffeinated drinks can cause the bladder to fill more quickly, prompting your bladder to leak urine.
- Urinary tract/bladder Infection. Infections may trigger incontinence briefly. Bladder control often returns when the infection resolves.
- Menopause. Researchers think having low levels of the hormone estrogen following menopause may weaken the urethra.8 The urethra is tasked with keeping urine in the bladder until you are ready to urinate.
The Four Types of Incontinence
Urinary incontinence falls into four main categories: 1) urgency incontinence; 2) stress incontinence; 3) functional incontinence; and 4) overflow incontinence.
Urgency and stress incontinence are the most common of the two. Urgency incontinence gets its classification because of the sudden urge to urinate that is triggered by this form. This type of incontinence usually doesn’t allow you to reach a bathroom in time. Stress incontinence occurs from activities that put stress on the bladder such as sneezing, laughing, exercise, jumping, or lifting heavy objects.
Functional incontinence is a result of a barrier to proper functioning. For example, if a person is injured, has arthritis or another physical challenge they may have urine leakage because they physically can’t reach a bathroom soon enough.
Lastly, overflow incontinence. This classification describes a circumstance where urine leakage is caused because the body makes more urine than the bladder has capacity to hold.
Non-Invasive Treatment for Female Incontinence
Vitality Medical Center works with our patients to help resolve their urinary incontinence with the least invasive methods first.
The type of treatment prescribed will depend largely on the type of incontinence you have. To clarify, for some cases, losing weight, performing and committing to bladder training–visiting the restroom and scheduled intervals–can help alleviate symptoms. For others, hormone balancing may need to be used in conjunction with some of these other natural approaches.
Other common non-surgical treatments, aim to strengthen the pelvic floor and alter controllable behaviors that affect the bladder function. Such as: 1) pelvic floor training using Kegel exercises to strengthen weakened bladder muscles; 2) behavioral training; 3)electrical, magnetic and nerve stimulation; 5) urethral bulking; 6) biofeedback; and 7) PRP injections into the area to improve muscle tone.
Call Vitality Medical Center, Restore Your Quality of Life
Many women are silently suffering from urinary incontinence because they aren’t aware that there are non-invasive options available. According to Healthline, “only one-third of women report their struggles with incontinence to their doctors, and only 38 percent of these women do any kind of exercise to combat incontinence.” This doesn’t have to be you. Call Vitality Medical Center today to schedule a consultation.