Not having total control over your bladder is an embarrassing and distressing problem. But it’s not one you need to live with.
Though not a common topic of conversation, urinary incontinence is a common problem in women, affecting two times more women than men. Pregnancy, childbirth, and hormonal changes during menopause affect the structures that support your urinary system.
Our team of medical experts at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, in Grand Island and Hastings, Nebraska, help many women struggling with bladder issues. Urinary incontinence is a symptom of an underlying issue involving your urinary system. It’s not you or your age, and it’s definitely not something you need to embarrassingly live with for the rest of your life.
Here, we list the three common types of incontinence and how we treat them.
1. Stress incontinence
If you leak urine when you cough or exercise, you have stress incontinence. This is the most common type of incontinence, and it occurs when the muscles that support the urethra — the tube that carries urine from the bladder and out of your body — weaken. This may be due to a weak sphincter muscle around the bladder opening or weak pelvic floor muscles.
Treatment for stress incontinence depends on the severity of your leakage. We initially recommend lifestyle changes, bladder training (following a set bathroom schedule), and exercises to strengthen the supportive muscles.
If these interventions fail to improve your incontinence, we may suggest a surgical procedure to reinforce or restore function of the supportive tissues.
2. Urge incontinence
Urge incontinence necessitates close proximity to the bathroom. With this type of incontinence, the urge to urinate is so intense and comes on so quickly that you may not make it to the bathroom in time.
Also called overactive bladder, urge incontinence may occur from many causes including weakened pelvic floor muscles, nerve damage, or an infection.
Treatment for urge incontinence includes:
- Bladder training
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises
- Lifestyle changes (drinking less fluid)
- Medications to improve bladder function or clear up an infection
It can take time to find the right treatment or treatments to improve your urge incontinence, and we only perform surgery when absolutely necessary.
3. Overflow incontinence
Overflow incontinence causes a slow, consistent drip of urine due to the inability to completely empty your bladder when you urinate. You may develop overflow incontinence if your bladder fills up too quickly (taking diuretics, drinking too many fluids), you have a blockage, your bladder muscles are weak, or there’s nerve damage.
Treatment for overflow incontinence depends on the cause, but you can gain some control over the leakage with bladder training and voiding a second time when you finish urinating. Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the bladder and supportive muscles also help.
Surgery, medications, and catheterization (inserting a catheter to drain urine from the bladder) are additional treatments for overflow incontinence.
Incontinence is not a normal part of the aging process. If you’re struggling to control the contents of your bladder, it’s time to schedule an appointment. Call Obstetricians & Gynecologists today, or request an appointment online.