Urinary Incontinence in Women

Urinary incontinence is when you accidentally release a small amount of urine. It happens when make a sudden movement such as a laugh, cough or sneeze. Sudden accidental leakage of urine can also happen when you jog or when you have a sudden need to the bathroom but can not get there in time. Urinary incontinence does not cause any major health problems, only major embarrassment.

Urinary incontinence is usually just a short-term problem caused by urinary tract infection, some medicines or constipation. It can easily be treated once the problem that is causing it is identified.

Chronic urinary incontinence

There is also another type of incontinence which is long-term or chronic. There are two types of chronic urinary incontinence:

Stress incontinence – happens when you sneeze, cough of laugh or do other activities which put pressure on the bladder such as jogging. This type of bladder control is common in older women.

Urge incontinence – happens when you suddenly have a strong urge to pee but cannot reach the toilet in time. This can happen even when your bladder is holding only a small amount of pee. Some women may experience no warning when they accidentally leak urine. Other may have an accidental leak when they drink water, even hear or touch running water. An overactive bladder is also a kind of urge incontinence, but that doesn’t mean that everyone with overactive bladders leak urine.

Mixed incontinence is a combination of the two types of chronic incontinence. These problems occur together in older women.

Causes of urinary incontinence

Chronic urinary incontinence may be causes by any of the following:

  • Weak muscles in the lower urinary tract.
  • Damage either in the urinary tract or in the nerves that control urination.
  • Stress incontinence can be caused by: Childbirth, weight gain or other conditions that stretch the pelvic floor muscles.

When the pelvic floor muscles cannot support your bladder, it drops down and pushes against the vagina. Since we cannot tighten that muscle that closes off the urethra, the urine may leak because of extra pressure from movements like coughing or sneezing or other activities.

Urge incontinence is caused by an overactive bladder muscle that pushes urine out. It may be caused by:

  • irritation of he bladder
  • emotional stress
  • psychological problems such as Parkinson’s disease
  • stroke

It many cases, your doctor may not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of your urinary incontinence.

Symptoms of urinary incontinence

Of course the main symptom of urinary incontinence is accidental urine leakage.

If what you have is stress incontinence you may leak a small to medium amount of pee when you cough or sneeze or jog, etc.

If you have urge incontinence, you may feel a sudden need to urinate. You may also feel the urge to urinate often. With urge incontinence you may leak a rather large amount of pee, enough to soak your clothes.

If you have mixed incontinence, you may have symptoms of both types.

How to diagnose urinary incontinence

Usually your physician will ask you how much you drink. Your doctor will also ask how often you urinate an leak and how much. It is advisable to keep track of your toilet habits for 3-4 days prior to seeing your doctor.

Your doctor may also examine you and do some tests to determine the cause of your bladder control problem. If your doctor thinks your incontinence is caused by more than one problem, there will likely be more tests.

How to treat urinary incontinence

Generally, bladder control problems can be cured. Here are some treatments for stress incontinence:

  • Kegel Exercises is one of the best ways to alleviate stress incontinence. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Using a pessary – a removable device which is put in the vagina and which lessens incontinence by putting pressure on the urethra.
  • Medications can also help. But ask you physician for possible side effects.
  • Surgery, as a last result, can be done to help support the bladder or move it back to its normal position.

For urge incontinence, here are some possible treatments:

  • Your doctor may suggest behavior changes. For example bladder training help you increase you "holding" time or how long you have to wait before you have to urinate.
  • Your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat the problem.
  • For mixed incontinence, your doctor will
  • Treat first, the one that bothers you most. Then he/she will proceed with treatment of the other cause if necessary.
  • Your doctor may also suggest things you can do at home like going to the bathrooms at set times and completely emptying your bladder every time you pee.
  • Reduce your intake of caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea or sodas.

Preventing urinary incontinence

Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic muscles and reduce your risks for incontinence.

Quitting smoking can help to since it will cause you to cough less.