Urinary incontinence is the accidental or involuntary loss urine. Women are twice as likely to experience urinary incontinence than men, due to factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and the structure of the female urinary tract.
Female incontinence is very common and there are a number of effective treatments avaliable. Let’s take a look at the different types and what you can do about it.
Incontinence can be quite troubling and have an enormous impact on a woman’s emotional wellbeing. It can be very embarrassing and result in social anxieties, and restrict of normal daily activities.
Luckily incontinence is very common and there are a number of effective treatments available to all women. It is important to talk with your gynaecologist regarding any concerns you have about incontinence and to seek treatment, even if your affliction is minor. Treatment can be tailored to your lifestyle and personal preferences.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence is caused by weakness or damage in the urinary sphincter or pelvic floor muscles. Urine loss occurs when there is increased intra-abdominal pressure, such as when you sneeze, cough or lift something heavy.
Urge Urinary Incontinence
Urge urinary Incontinence or urgency incontinence is caused by an overactive bladder or detrusor muscle instability – a bladder that contracts out of your control. Loss of urine is preceded by a sudden urge to urinate, usually triggered by familiar prompts such as arriving at your front door, washing your hands or the sound of running water. Volume of urine loss can vary from a few drops to complete draining of the bladder.
Overflow Urinary Incontinence
Overflow urinary incontinence is when the bladder does not empty completely, causing leakage due to an overflowing bladder. Urine may leak out unexpectedly – even when you may not sense that your bladder is full. This usually does not occur unless bladder function is very poor, usually due to severe prolapse or nerve damage.
A urinary fistula is an abnormal opening between part of the urinary tract and other organs, such as the bladder and vagina or the urethra and vagina. They are not so common, and may be due to previous surgery, injury during childbirth or inflammatory bladder disease. Urine leakage is usually continuous and insensible.
Treatments For Urinary Incontinence
Treatments for urinary incontinence will vary depending on the underlying issue. There are a number of different approaches, depending on the severity of your condition, your personal preferences and lifestyle.
Behavioural Training: This includes training the bladder to delay urination after the urge to use the bathroom arises. Scheduling bathroom trips every 2-4 hours can also help establish more regular behaviour, as can keeping a diary to help keep track of urination.
Medicine: There are number of medications that can be taken to help manage incontinence. Depending on your condition, medications may serve to stabilise muscle contractions in the bladder, as in the case of an overactive bladder, or relax the bladder to help ensure a more complete emptying.
Muscle Training: Regimes aimed at strengthening the pelvic flooring muscles and urinary sphincter can be extremely effective in reducing or completely stopping leakage.
Lifestyle Changes: Thinking about any changes that can be made in your daily life can also help with incontinence. For example, identifying bladder aggravating food and drinks and cutting them from your diet can really help. This includes alcohol, caffeine, citrus and dairy products.
Surgical Options: There are several procedures that can help stabilise the urinary tract and assist with treating stress incontinence. If muscle strengthening options are ineffective in assisting with pelvic floor stability or urinary sphincter function, then surgery is a great alternative.
If you have any questions regarding urinary incontinence or any other gynaecological concerns, or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Dr Bevan Brown is one of the most renowned gynaecologists and obstetricians in the Hills District.