Although millions of women experience urinary incontinence, it is not normal and there’s no reason anyone should suffer from it needlessly.
New technology and procedures make it easier than ever to treat common urinary and pelvic conditions that affect women. Yet many women simply put up with incontinence, not realizing that it’s a medical condition—and that there’s help. In fact, many women think it’s a normal part of having children or going into menopause.
Many people also think of incontinence as an older woman’s condition. Yet it’s much more common than you might think for women in their 20s and 30s. Regardless of age, you don’t have to put up with the discomfort and embarrassment of urinary incontinence when there are simple solutions that work.
Incontinence comes in many forms.
Stress incontinence is that little leak that happens when you cough, laugh, sneeze, run or jump—any motion that stresses or puts too much pressure on the bladder. stress incontinence can result from pregnancy at childbirth, when pelvic muscles and tissues can get stretched and damaged. It can also occur as a result of high-impact sports, aging or being overweight.
For stress incontinence, many women get good results using Kegel exercises, timed urination training and lifestyle changes. You have the best chance of success when you stick with them. For difficult-to-treat stress incontinence, surgery can help.
Also known as “overactive bladder,” urge incontinence is a bit different—it’s the urgent need to go, followed by an involuntary loss of urine with anything from a few seconds’ to a minute’s warning. It is often due to spasms of the bladder muscles. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, bladder cancer, Parkinson’s disease and urinary tract infections can also cause urge incontinence.
For urge incontinence, retraining the bladder is often helpful. Medicines often help as well. Surgery is sometimes used to place an interstim device, which acts as a “pacemaker” for the bladder and can help when medications fail.
If you can’t empty your bladder every time you go to the bathroom and experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine, you have overflow incontinence. Certain medications can cause this problem, and people with nerve damage from diabetes or previous surgery can also experience this type of incontinence. It is the result of impaired bladder muscle contractions or bladder obstructions. Surgical and lifestyle medications can often help.
Mixed incontinence refers to having more than one type of incontinence, with stress and urge incontinence being the typical mix. Many women have both types, which a customized treatment plan can address.
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