If you were fortunate enough to attend this year’s Women’s Conference, you might have heard Dr. Melissa Moore speak on urinary incontinence. Dr. Moore’s presentation, ‘I Laughed so Hard the Tears Ran Down My Leg,” was a lighthearted look at a problem that plagues many women. An estimated 25-33% of people in the United States suffer from urinary incontinence, and the majority of them are female.
It’s a common misconception that urinary incontinence is a normal part of aging. It is not. Thankfully, there are ways to manage urinary incontinence and minimize the effect it has on your life. If you’re an avid TV viewer, the commercials would lead you to believe that the answer lies in a form-fitting, beautifully-designed adult diaper. Although the global adult diaper market is poised to reach $28.65 billion by 2025, Dr. Moore is quick to point out that there may be more suitable and longer-lasting alternatives.
Let’s look at the four types of urinary incontinence, causes, and solutions.
If urine leaks out when you jump, cough, or laugh, you may have stress incontinence. Any physical exertion that increases abdominal pressure also puts pressure on the bladder. The word “stress” actually refers to the physical strain associated with leakage. Although it can be emotionally distressing, the condition has nothing to do with emotion. Often, only a small amount of urine leaks out. In more severe cases, the pressure inside the bladder overcomes the body’s ability to hold in urine. The leakage occurs even though the bladder muscles are not contracting, and you don’t feel the urge to urinate. Stress incontinence often occurs in conjunction with childbirth, a chronic cough, diabetes, or could be related to weight. Stress incontinence can be treated with:
•Tension-Free Vaginal Tape
- Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Overactive Bladder (Urge Incontinence)
If you feel a strong urge to urinate even when your bladder isn’t full, your incontinence might be related to an overactive bladder, sometimes called urge incontinence. This condition occurs in both men and women and involves an overwhelming urge to urinate immediately and may be followed by loss of urine before you can reach a bathroom. Even if you never have an accident, urgency and urinary frequency can interfere with work and social life because of the need to keep running to the bathroom. Urge incontinence can be treated through bladder retraining–fluid restriction, avoiding caffeine and timed voiding. In addition, medication may help.
If you have symptoms of both overactive bladder and stress incontinence, you likely have mixed incontinence, a combination of both types. Most women with incontinence have both stress and urge symptoms — a challenging situation. Mixed incontinence also occurs in men who have had prostate removal or surgery for an enlarged prostate, and in frail, older people of either gender. The first step is to treat the urge through medication. If this doesn’t work, surgery may be necessary.
If your bladder never completely empties, you might experience urine leakage, with or without feeling a need to go. Overflow incontinence occurs when the pressure in the bladder overcomes the ability of the urethra to close because there is so much urine in the bladder. It can occur in both men and women if the bladder muscle becomes underactive (the opposite of an overactive bladder) so you don’t feel an urge to urinate. Eventually, the bladder becomes overfilled or distended, pulling the urethra open and allowing urine to leak out. This condition is