Millions of women experience loss of bladder control, also called urinary incontinence (UI). Some women may lose a few drops of urine while running or coughing. Others may feel a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine.
UI can be slightly bothersome or totally debilitating. For some women, the risk of public embarrassment keeps them from enjoying many activities with their family and friends.
Though effective medical help is available to treat this condition, many women won’t admit to having UI, so they go undiagnosed and continue to suffer needlessly.
The different types of urinary incontinence include:
Urinary incontinence occurs for different reasons. In stress urinary incontinence, the bladder is unable to hold back urine during activities because the sphincter in the urethra that holds back urine has lost its support. In overactive bladder or urge incontinence, the nerves supplying the bladder muscle are in “overdrive” and cause bladder contractions at inappropriate times.
No single treatment works for everyone, but most women can be treated without surgery. The best treatment for you will depend on several factors including, your lifestyle and preferences. Many women try the simpler treatment options first, such as changing a few habits and doing exercises to strengthen the muscles that hold urine in the bladder.
If these behavioral treatments do not work, you may choose to try medicines or vaginal devices. Sometimes mild electrical stimulation to the pelvic nerves may help. And for some women, surgery is the best solution.
Physicians specializing in the treatment of incontinence know the right questions to ask and are already familiar with the symptoms you are experiencing. Their goal is to make you feel at ease and comfortable in seeking a longlasting solution.
Here are some other facts about urinary incontinence –
- You are not alone — More than 13 million people in the United States—male and female, young and old—experience urinary incontinence.
- Women experience incontinence twice as often as men. Pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference. But both women and men can become incontinent from neurologic injury, birth defects, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and physical problems associated with aging.
- Older women, more often than younger women, experience incontinence. But incontinence is not inevitable with age. Incontinence is treatable and often curable at all ages. If you experience incontinence, you may feel embarrassed. It may help you to remember that loss of bladder control can be treated.