Wellness Minute - Incontinence
Millions of women have sudden urine loss or stress urinary incontinence. The condition causes them to leak urine when they laugh, sneeze, cough, or during exercise.
Although so many women experience sudden urine loss, most women are not aware that it is a treatable condition. Women may suffer in silence and put off activities that they enjoy.
Female stress urinary incontinence (SUI)
Female stress urinary incontinence is caused in part by an improperly functioning urethra. Unlike other types of incontinence, stress urinary incontinence is not a problem of the bladder.
Normally, the urethra maintains a tight seal to prevent involuntary loss of urine. In a woman with stress urinary incontinence, muscle and pelvic tissue weakened by childbirth or other causes, are unable to adequately support the urethra in its correct position. As a result, when pressure is exerted on the bladder from the diaphragm during sudden movements, the urethra cannot maintain its seal and urine escapes.
Female stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is caused in part by an improperly functioning urethra. Unlike other types of incontinence, SUI is not a problem of the bladder. Normally, the urethra maintains a tight seal to prevent involuntary loss of urine.
SUI can be caused by the following:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Pelvic muscle strain
- Pelvic muscle tone loss
Patients choosing surgical treatment may be able to go home as early as a few hours after the procedure with only a two-three week recovery period.
During the procedure, mesh is woven through pelvic tissue and positioned underneath the urethra, creating a supportive sling. When pressure is exerted, the tape provides the support needed to allow the urethra to maintain its seal.
Urge incontinence is when the need to urinate comes on so quickly you can't make it to a toilet. It's common in men and women.
- Medication. Medications can help tighten the muscles that control urine flow or help relax the bladder itself. Your doctor may also recommend changing the medicines you take for other conditions if the medicines could be affecting bladder control.
- Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises can help strengthen the muscles that control the bladder. To do Kegel exercises, tighten the muscles you would use to stop urine flow and hold for a count of 10. Relax for a count of 10. Do this 10 to 20 times, three times a day. Men can do a similar exercise. Your doctor can help instruct you in doing this exercise.
- Physical therapy. A specially trained physical therapist can use biofeedback to develop an at-home exercise plan to strengthen the muscles within your pelvis. Biofeedback uses machines to create pictures and sounds that show how well you are controlling your pelvic muscles. It may help you learn to control those muscles better.
- Injections. Materials can be injected to bulk up the tissue around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder. This can make urine less likely to escape by accident.
- Devices. Women can wear devices called pessaries, which are inserted into the vagina and help support the bladder.
- Surgery. If other treatments don't work, or if the incontinence is severe, surgery may be helpful.