URINARY INCONTINENCE

Urinary incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine that occurs during exercise or other physical activity, coughing, laughing or sneezing. This is usually due to either an intrinsically weak urethra or a poorly supported urethra, which often occurs as a result of childbearing. Treatment focuses on different methods to strengthen and support the urethra to help control leakage. Sling procedures, minor vaginal surgeries, are very effective for treating stress urinary incontinence. Other treatment options include medications to increase urethral pressure, physical therapy to improve muscular support of the pelvic floor and urethra, and periurethral injections.

This problem is not limited to older women. In fact, we see patients as young as 13 and as old as 100. Women should not accept urinary incontinence as a way of life. It does not have to be a normal part of aging. It is often caused by specific changes in body function that may result from diseases, use of medications, and/or the onset of an illness. Sometimes it is the first and only symptom of a urinary tract infection. Women are most likely to develop urinary incontinence either during pregnancy and childbirth, or after the hormonal changes of menopause, because of weakened pelvic muscles.

TYPES OF INCONTINENCE

Urge incontinence. The inability to hold urine long enough to reach a restroom. It can occur in people who have conditions such as diabetes, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, but may be an indication of other diseases or conditions that would also warrant medical attention. Although less common, it can also appear without apparent cause.

Stress incontinence. The most common type of incontinence in younger women. It involves the leakage of urine during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects or other body movements that put pressure on the bladder.

Overflow incontinence. Leakage that occurs when the quantity of urine produced exceeds the bladder’s capacity to hold it.