Do you often leak urine or suddenly feel an urgent need to use the bathroom? If so, you may be suffering from urinary incontinence. It’s estimated that about 25 million Americans suffer from this condition, 75-80% of which are women. Despite the prevalence of urinary incontinence, women wait an average of 6.5 years from their first symptoms before they obtain a diagnosis.
The big lag time between getting the first symptoms and getting a diagnosis may have to deal with embarrassment around incontinence. After all, it’s fairly taboo to talk about bathroom habits. In fact, many women lose self-esteem or isolate themselves out of fear of ridicule. Despite this, you shouldn’t ignore urinary incontinence.
The team at Holistic OB/GYN & Midwifery are experienced in dealing with incontinence and other gynecological issues. In this blog, they explain why incontinence occurs and what can be done about it.
There are six types of incontinence:
With this kind of incontinence, damaged pelvic muscles are unable to withstand abdominal pressures from exercising, coughing, and other forms of exertion, thus allowing the bladder to leak.
Urge incontinence, which is characterised by the sudden urge to use the bathroom, usually occurs because nerves associated with the bladder are damaged.
Mixed incontinence, which combines stress incontinence and urge incontinence, causes a sudden need to urinate before there’s time to get to a bathroom.
This type of incontinence happens when the amount of urine produced exceeds the bladder capacity.
This refers to leakage that occurs when a person is unaware of the urine loss. It often occurs due to an abdominal or organ injury.
This kind of incontinence can occur after a major abdominal surgery, such as a hysterectomy or Cesarean section.
Stress incontinence is by far the most common kind of incontinence. Here’s what can trigger it and what its root causes usually are.
As mentioned, stress incontinence occurs when activities put increased pressure on the bladder. When this pressure occurs, urine may leak out. Activities that may cause urine to leak out include:
Leaking is more likely to occur when the bladder is full.
Stress incontinence generally occurs for one of two reasons: the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak, or the sphincter muscles that control the flow of urine are weak. Women are particularly susceptible to developing incontinence because of their anatomy. Simply put, many of a woman’s natural processes can weaken the muscles that control urination. These processes can include the following:
Other risk factors that can increase a woman's chances of developing stress incontinence include being obese, smoking, and having a chronic illness that causes coughing.
Like many conditions, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and quitting smoking may help reduce episodes of incontinence. Reducing consumption of caffeine and alcohol may also help reduce incontinence symptoms, because these substances can irritate the bladder.
Strengthening your pelvic floor and sphincter muscles may also help you reduce incontinence symptoms. And you can strengthen these muscles by engaging in Kegel exercises. At Holistic OB/GYN & Midwifery, we’ll work with you to create a custom treatment plan that fits your specific incontinence diagnosis.
If you have incontinence, don’t ignore it. Treatment and relief are possible. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Holistic OB/GYN & Midwifery today.