Finding The Facts
Due to the fact that a woman’s physical makeup puts great strain on the pelvic organs, women are more prone to experience urinary incontinence than men, which also means that it is more commonly considered a urogynecological issue. And while many people mistakenly consider urinary incontinence to be age related, it is, in fact, one of the more common conditions that women face at some point in their lives. A number of cases are simply activity related and need not cause alarm, while others may indicate a greater issue which may require the attention of a urogynecologist. At Coyle Institute, Dr. Coyle and his staff can accurately diagnose and treat any woman suffering from urinary incontinence, providing a range of options that will provide safe, effective relief and offer them a chance to live life without limits.
Many women experience urinary incontinence during their pregnancies and even after giving birth, though it can also occur in women of any age, at any time. For instance, some women are prone to leakage during exercise; laughter; coughing; and sneezing—all of which cause contractions of the bladder and reduce their ability to control the urge to urinate. Menopausal and post-menopausal women generally experience the highest occurrences of bladder control issues, which is likely the reason it is so commonly associated with aging.
In Some Cases
In some cases, urinary incontinence is indicative of a more serious medical condition, such as pelvic organ prolapse, overactive bladder, or infection. Finding a solution is highly dependent on determining the exact cause, so seeking the attention of a urogynecologist is often advisable.
The most common causes generally include:
- Weakened pelvic muscles, which are often the result of pregnancy or childbirth.
- Damage to the nerve system that controls the urge to urinate, often related to Parkinson’s, MS, stroke, diabetes, radiation, herniated discs, or surgery.
- Use of medications, alcohol, or caffeine. Medications may stimulate the body to send fluid from other areas to the bladder, which causes the bladder to fill at a more rapid rate than it can handle, resulting in leakage. Conversely, some medications may cause the nerves to relax or even misfire, which will then lead to an inability to control the bladder. Alcohol consumption may have similar nerve-dampening effects, and caffeinated substances increase the rate at which the bladder fills.
- Weight. Being overweight causes strain to pelvic organs such as the bladder, which can bring about loss of control.
- Infections, such as urinary tract infections, which can irritate the nerves in the bladder and cause contractions which release urine.
There are many forms of urinary incontinence, each caused by different circumstances. Some are temporary, such as those related to infections; some are the result of stresses on the bladder muscles, such as laughter, coughing, sneezing, or exercise; and some are related to sudden, unexpected urges to urinate. Functional incontinence is caused by a physical inability to reach a bathroom in time—women who are unable to walk may suffer from functional incontinence; and mixed incontinence is a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Rather than simply suffering from urinary incontinence, however, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce the occurrences or even cure the condition. After a physical examination is conducted and a bladder function test is performed, certain treatments may be recommended, including:
- Strengthening the pelvic muscles through Kegel exercises, which involve the contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles and can strengthen the ability to control spasms of the bladder or the urge to urinate.
- Tracking the times of day when urination is most frequent, so that bathrooms are easily reached before leakage occurs.
- Making dietary changes to reduce or eliminate foods and beverages which cause the bladder to fill more quickly or which simply irritate the bladder.
- Losing weight, which will reduce the amount of physical stress put on the bladder.
- Taking medications that treat an overactive bladder.
- Inserting a pessary—a soft, flexible device which adds physical support to the pelvic organs.
- Electrically stimulating the bladder nerves through a device which sends electrical signals, thereby causing the brain to recognize and control the urge to urinate.
- Undergoing surgery to reposition the neck of the bladder or urethra and add the support of surgical mesh or a bladder sling by attaching it to muscle or bone in the pelvic area.
- Using a catheter, which allows the bladder to be emptied through a thin tube inserted through the urethra nto the bladder, where it can then drain urine.
At Coyle Institute, we encourage any woman suffering from urinary incontinence to contact us and find out how they can find relief. Call us today!