Whether you’re dealing with incontinence, pain or other concerning symptoms, a urogynecologist may be able to help. Here’s what to expect during your first appointment.Read More
We all know the feeling of holding our urine a little bit too long—whether it’s to avoid stops during a long car ride, not miss a minute of a suspenseful movie in a theater or simply because there’s nowhere to use the bathroom. In fact, 50 percent of adult women experience urinary incontinence at some point in their lives. If you’re experiencing the urgent sensation to urinate frequently or have been unable to hold your urine even for short amounts of time, there may be an underlying reason.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is defined as the loss of bladder control. The severity of urinary incontinence ranges from leaking a little bit when you sneeze or cough to feeling the sudden need to urinate and experiencing an involuntary loss of urine.
Types of urinary incontinence include:
- Stress incontinence: Urine leaking when you put stress on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting something heavy
- Urge incontinence: A sudden and intense need to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine
- Overflow incontinence: Urine leaking due to an inability to empty the bladder completely
- Functional incontinence: Having a physical or mental impairment, like arthritis, that makes it hard for you to make it to the toilet on time
- Mixed incontinence: A combination of different types of incontinence
- Neurogenic bladder: Urine leaking with known underlying neurogenic conditions like brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury/conditions, uncontrolled diabetes, etc.
What are the Causes of Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence can be temporary or persistent and caused by a number of different conditions. The root of temporary urinary incontinence is usually lifestyle habits or an underlying medical condition that is easily treatable. Once you address the root cause of temporary urinary incontinence, it usually goes away. Temporary causes of urinary incontinence include:
- Consuming food, drinks or medications that are diuretics, such as alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, blood pressure medication, muscle relaxants and large doses of vitamin C
- Urinary tract infections, which can irritate your bladder and cause the frequent and urgent need to urinate
- Constipation, which can cause the nerves in your bladder to become overactive
Urinary incontinence can also be persistent, and caused by conditions such as:
- Urinary tract obstructions like tumors or stones
- Urethral diverticulum, a rare condition in which a pocket forms along the urethra
- Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke or spinal injury, that interfere with the nerve signals involved in bladder control
You may also be at risk for experiencing urinary incontinence if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have experienced childbirth
- Are an older adult
- Are experiencing menopause
- Are overweight or obese
- Are a smoker
- Have a close relative with a history of urinary incontinence
How is Urinary Incontinence Diagnosed?
Health care providers can assess what’s causing your urinary incontinence with a number of different tests. These tests may include a physical exam, a urine analysis or culture to check kidney function and bladder health, a cystoscopy to look at the inside of the bladder and urodynamic testing, a combination of tests that assess bladder health.
Techniques may include limiting or reducing liquid consumption, exercising to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, practicing bladder training to increase the amount of time in between urination or scheduling regular bathroom trips to avoid the sudden need to urinate.
Medications can help calm the bladder muscles and increase the amount of liquid your bladder can hold. Devices like a pessary can support the pelvic floor muscles and prevent urinary leakage. Other non-surgical options include anti-incontinence pessary, gentle electrical stimulation, which can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) and sacral nerve stimulation.
For those with severe and persistent urinary incontinence who haven’t found success with other treatments, surgery may be an option. Surgical techniques include sling insertion, prolapse surgery or artificial urinary sphincter insertion.
Typically used for urge incontinence or overactive bladder after other treatment methods have failed, Botox injections can help relax your bladder to reduce the urge to urinate frequently. Injections of transurethral bulking agents, like collagen, can help close the urethra to reduce urinary urge and frequency.
Our Approach to Urinary Incontinence
At Inspira, we understand that urinary incontinence can be embarrassing and can keep you from doing the things you love. Our urogynecologists are here to help diagnose the underlying cause of your urinary incontinence and will work with you to find the best solution or treatment to ease your symptoms and get you back to normal life. Help from Inspira is never far with offices and treatment centers conveniently located across the South Jersey region.