Do you leak urine when you sneeze or laugh? Do you need to use incontinence pads daily? You may believe that it’s just something that happens as you age and you have to live with it.
Unfortunately, up to half of the women who experience leakage do not inform their doctor due to embarrassment and the misconception that it is inevitable. This is not the case – loss of bladder control is not a normal part of aging.
Difficulties with leaking urine can be distressing and cause individuals to avoid routine activities. However, there are many treatment options for urinary incontinence.
What Causes Incontinence?
The bladder is a complex organ that requires coordination of muscles and nerves. During urination, the bladder’s muscles contract to force urine through the urethra, while sphincters relax to allow the urine to exit the body. When muscles or nerves in and around the bladder do not function properly, urine can leak.
Incontinence in women can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Weak bladder or pelvic floor muscles
- Overactive bladder
- Nerve problems due to diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s disease
- Pelvic organ prolapse
The prostate gland is linked to most cases in men. Male incontinence may result from the following:
- Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate
- Prostatitis, or prostate gland inflammation
- Nerve or muscle injury following surgical procedures or treatment for prostate cancer
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Stress incontinence is the leakage of urine when pressure is placed on the bladder, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects. It is the most prevalent type of bladder control problem among younger and middle-aged females. It also can start later, around menopause.
Urge incontinence occurs when a person needs to urinate and cannot hold their urine until they reach the restroom. People with diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke may experience difficulties.
Overflow incontinence occurs when a full bladder leaks small amounts of urine. If an enlarged prostate blocks a man’s urethra, he may experience difficulty emptying his bladder. Overflow incontinence can also be caused by diabetes and spinal cord injury.
Loss of bladder control is a common and often manageable condition. For urinary incontinence, there are both non-surgical and surgical therapy options. Treatment for incontinence can enhance the quality of life while boosting overall health.
Treatment options include:
Pelvic floor exercise – weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to stress incontinence, especially in women who have given birth. Kegel exercises strengthen those muscles and can improve incontinence.
Medications – there are certain medications that target different parts of the urination process. They may relax bladder muscles or stop the bladder muscles from squeezing when they shouldn’t.
Neuromodulation – Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation can be a great option for OAB or urge incontinence. A nerve that supplies the bladder is stimulation with electrical impulses to help it function properly. There are outpatient options as well as permanent implants, like Interstim.
Botox injections – Botox injections help keep bladder muscles from contracting when they shouldn’t. It’s a minimally invasive treatment that can provide relief for around 6 months.
Surgery – In some cases, surgery may be required to lift the bladder or urethra. A urethral sling, where a “hammock” of your own tissue your synthetic material is placed is one type of surgery. Another is colposuspension, where the bladder is stitched into place.
Which treatments are selected depends on the type of incontinence you have. Generally, the least invasive treatments are done first and then another treatment is chosen if there isn’t enough improvement. Urinary incontinence can take some time and several steps before it is satisfactorily managed.
Even though urinary incontinence is a condition many people have, it’s not a normal part of aging. Don’t delay treatment any longer – schedule an appointment today!