For some reason female urinary incontinence is not a major topic of conversation among women, although it should be.
It is a common problem among 25 – 45% of women over the age of 30 in the United States, and getting all the facts should be worth any embarrassment.
At the very least, all women should be aware of the most common types of female urinary incontinence and how to treat them.
Stress Urinary Incontinence
If you have experienced a little “leak” while laughing or sneezing, then you are familiar with stress urinary incontinence. It can occur when you are coughing, doing strenuous exercise, or later in life during menopause when estrogen amounts are reduced. Chronic coughing from smoking is a common risk factor.
A woman’s pelvic floor muscles weaken after giving birth, and bladder muscles weaken with age all causing those little leaks to become more frequent and annoying.
Treating Stress Incontinence
Simple lifestyle changes can improve or even eliminate stress incontinence. Losing weight will help to reduce pressure on the bladder. Drink sufficient amounts of water each day to stay hydrated, but limit intake at night before bedtime. Avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol while getting adequate amounts of fiber.
The best way to improve stress incontinence is to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles through Kegel exercises. Practice stopping your urine flow and holding it for 5 seconds before releasing the muscles. Do 10 -15 repetitions. Try performing these exercise lying down, sitting or standing.
Urgent Urinary Incontinence
This form of incontinence involves a sudden urge to urinate. It usually comes on abruptly and can become a real lifestyle issue. Those women who suffer with this condition must always be aware of the nearest bathroom, and oftentimes it can limit their daily activities.
Some of the common reasons include:
- An overactive bladder
- Diabetes can cause high glucose levels leading to the production of more urine
- Constipation can affect the nerves in the bladder
- Neurological conditions like MS can cause urgent urinary incontinence
- Kidney stones can lead to an obstruction in the urinary tract which will overflow
- Drinking too much water
If a stinging burning sensation accompanies the urge to urinate, it may be a urinary tract infection, so see your doctor as soon as possible.
Treating Urge Incontinence
One simple change a women can make is to drink a little less water. Sometimes we overdo it to stay hydrated. Try reducing the amount and see if that improves the symptoms.
Other treatments include oral medications or retraining your bladder to only urinate at certain times each day, Ask your doctor about nerve stimulation, Botox as a treatment for urinary incontinence, or any additional recommendations to improve your incontinence.
Don’t allow urinary incontinence to rule your life or affect your self-esteem. Once the cause is identified, it can be properly addressed. Talk to Dr. Levin about your urinary incontinence problems and any recommended treatment.