What women should know about urinary incontinence and loss of bladder control
Women who have urinary incontinence experience loss of bladder control and urine leakage. Twice as many women as men have some form of incontinence, as many aspects of a woman’s life increase the risk for bladder problems. Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and affect the urinary tract. Urinary tract infections, pelvic floor issues, long-term problems with constipation and certain medications also cause female incontinence.
Four types of urinary incontinence
There are four types of incontinence. Each is unique, but the different varieties can share some of the same symptoms.
The first type is stress incontinence (SUI). It causes urine leakage when women laugh, cough or sneeze. Leakage can also sometimes occur when they run, exercise or even walk.
Another type is urge incontinence, also known as an overactive bladder. It usually causes women to feel a strong urge to urinate several times a day. This urge may prevent them from getting to the bathroom on time, resulting in leakage. Although the urge is strong, many women release only a small amount of urine when using the bathroom.
The third type is mixed incontinence. Women who experience this have symptoms of both stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Finally, overflow incontinence occurs when women retain some urine in the bladder after using the bathroom. Since the bladder never completely empties, there is a risk for small leaks. This problem is most common in women with chronic conditions like diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
The symptoms of this problem and what to do about them
Depending on the type of urinary incontinence, women may experience some of the following symptoms.
- Urine leakage during the day or the night
- Strong urge to urinate
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
- Waking up at night to urinate
If these issues are a problem, a woman can reach out to the experienced physicians at Athens ObGyn. Our skilled gynecologists can diagnose and treat the problem. They can also give women advice to help them proactively manage their condition.
- Women can eat a balanced diet and exercise to lose at least 10% of their body weight if they are overweight.
- Our physicians can explain how to manage fluid intake. For example, it is helpful to avoid drinking a few hours before bedtime.
- Alcohol and caffeine contribute to incontinence, so it’s best to limit intake.
- Our gynecologists can help women train their bladder to control urge incontinence and increase the time between bathroom trips.
Diagnosing and treating incontinence issues
The staff at Athens ObGyn can help you find relief from urinary incontinence. Diagnosis begins with a thorough physical exam, followed by other tests as needed. Treatment includes lifestyle changes, physical therapy, pessary devices, medications and gynecological surgery.
If you have loss of bladder control, don’t suffer in silence. For a confidential, compassionate consultation, contact us.