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What you can do about urinary incontinence

What you can do about urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence, or the inability to control your bladder, can be an embarrassing problem. Many women have difficulty discussing this topic, but if you suffer from urinary incontinence, consult with your physician immediately to discuss your symptoms. This treatable health problem is an extremely common issue that affects millions of American women.

Stress incontinence

Some women may experience leakage when exercising, coughing, sneezing, or standing up. This is known as stress incontinence, and is caused by the weakening of muscles that support and close your bladder. Stress incontinence often occurs after pregnancy, childbirth, and after certain surgical procedures such as a hysterectomy. Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence in women.

Fortunately, your physician can work with you to treat stress incontinence. Often, non-invasive methods can bring significant relief and stop most or all leakage. These may include:

  • Doing Kegel exercises
  • Avoiding alcohol or caffeine
  • Losing excess weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Going to the bathroom when you first feel the urge

If non-invasive treatments don’t correct the issue, your physician may prescribe medication. Several medications have been shown to effectively treat stress incontinence in women when lifestyle changes weren’t enough. In addition, surgery may be an option for some women — although it is only used when other methods fail to bring relief. Certain surgical techniques performed by a skilled urogynecologist can correct stress incontinence, and have you feeling like yourself again.

Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence is less common, but is just as disruptive to daily life. Urge incontinence is caused by the bladder muscles squeezing, or contracting at the wrong time. Classic symptoms of urge incontinence are a sudden and urgent need to urinate, loss of control over urination, and feeling the urge to urinate anytime of the day and night – even if your bladder is not full. Sometimes, urge incontinence is caused by bladder stones or an obstruction in your bladder, inflammation in the bladder, or even neurological issues.

In a properly functioning bladder, the bladder muscles stay relaxed until you go to the toilet. At that time, your bladder muscles squeeze to force the urine out. But with urge incontinence, the bladder muscles may contract at seemingly random times, causing a leakage or flow of urine when you aren’t expecting it.

Some lifestyle changes may help with urge incontinence, including:

  • Avoiding carbonated drinks, caffeine, and spicy foods, which can irritate the bladder.
  • Drinking only small amounts of fluid at a time.
  • Bladder retraining or certain exercises.

As with stress incontinence, certain medications and surgical procedures can be done for those who need additional help with their symptoms. You and your physician can discuss the best treatment plan for you.

CarePoint Health is dedicated to providing women with top-tier, comprehensive gynecological care. To learn more about our gynecological and women’s services, contact CarePoint Health at 1-201-791-7000 or visit our website to find a doctor.

Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.

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