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What Type of Incontinence do I Have? Diagnosis and Treatment Options

what type

It’s embarrassing, annoying and unpredictable. It’s urinary incontinence. The sudden, urgent need to urinate (which sometimes can’t be stopped in time) is a common issue for women of all ages. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s OK or that you have to just live with it. 

In some cases, urinary incontinence is a symptom of a more serious medical issue, such as  pelvic floor disorders,  pelvic organ prolapse, overactive bladder or an infection. In any case, there are steps that can help alleviate symptoms and even purge the urge forever. 

What Type of Urinary Incontinence do I Have?

The first step is determining what type of urinary incontinence you have. Which of these describes your urinary incontinence issues? 

You leak when you laugh, sneeze or exercise: Stress Urinary Incontinence

As women age, they often have to cope with some degree of with stress urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence is common among women who have been pregnant or have gone through childbirth and women who are in perimenopause or menopause. The support structures around the bladder are stretched and weakened, so any pressure on the bladder muscles triggers an unexpected urge to urinate.

You just went, and now you have to go again: Overflow Incontinence 

When the bladder doesn’t empty completely, it fills again too quickly. This leads to the more frequent and urgent urination known as overflow incontinence. Rare in women, it can be caused by nerve issues, a blockage, medications or other factors that limit the bladder’s ability to empty fully.

You have to go…oops, too late: Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence, or overactive bladder, causes a strong, sudden need to urinate even if your bladder isn’t full. (It’s a feeling familiar to any woman who has suffered through a urinary tract infection.) When the urge hits, you are unable to make it to the bathroom in time.

You know you need to go, but can’t get there on time: Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence is not specifically a bladder issue but is a matter of getting to the bathroom on time when you feel the urge to urinate. Functional incontinence can be the result of a health issue that causes mobility problems such as Parkinson’s disease, MS or musculoskeletal problems. It can also be a result of limited communication, as can be the case for women (or men) with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Medications can also interfere with the bladder’s messaging to the brain, limiting someone’s ability to recognize the need to use the bathroom.

What can You do to Regain Control?

There are a few easy steps that can help relieve the symptoms of urinary incontinence, but you should still consult your urogynecologist to rule out causes that may put your overall health in jeopardy.  

If you have to go NOW – or just too often – here are some things you can try: 

  • Kegel exercises: When you contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles it helps strengthen your pelvic floor and helps control the urge to urinate. 
  • Schedule your bathroom trips: Don’t wait for the urge; use the bathroom on a regular schedule. 
  • Lose weight: Extra weight puts physical pressure on the bladder, which can make it difficult to retain urine until you reach the bathroom. 
  • Eat right: Eliminate foods and beverages that cause the bladder to fill more quickly or which irritate the bladder triggering the urge to urinate. 
  • Try medications: Overactive bladder can be treated effectively with prescription drugs.  
  • Use a pessary: A pessary is a soft, flexible device that is inserted into the vagina to help support the pelvic organs, including the bladder. 

If your urinary incontinence is persistent, there are many interventions available to help alleviate your symptoms and improve urinary control. 

  • diVa® Laser Vaginal Therapy – diVa® uses duel-laser technology to resurface and tone the vaginal canal, strengthen pelvic structures and help to control mild to moderate incontinence. diva® is a safe and effective treatment that can be performed in your urogynecologist’s office, and there is no downtime following the procedure. 
  • Bulking Agents – The urethra is injected with trusted medical synthetic called Durasphere that “bulks” up the urethra and initiates a restructuring process. The strengthened urethra offers greater control of urine before it flows from the bladder.  
  • InterStim® Therapy – A small neurotransmitter device sends electrical impulses from the brain to the bladder to control pelvic muscles and the urge to urinate. The implantation takes only a few hours and can be done on an outpatient basis.  
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery  - In cases of functional incontinence, minimally invasive surgery is an option for repairing pelvic organ prolapse by repositioning the organs and reinforcing weakened muscles. 
  • Advanced Surgical Options: In hard-to-treat cases, your urogynecologist may recommend surgery including sling procedures, bladder neck suspension, prolapse surgery or the implantation of an artificial urinary sphincter. 

The expert team at the Coyle Institute has many years of experience in treating all types of urinary incontinence. Let us help you find the solution you need to stop urinary incontinence and reclaim your health so you can live life.