What is urinary incontinence?
Have you heard that a friend or a woman in your family suffers from urinary incontinence? Or possibly yourself?
Urinary incontinence in women is the involuntary loss of urine. Statistics show that this problem is more common than you possibly thought.
Here are some facts about this uncomfortable condition.
- Urinary incontinence affects 200 million people around the world.
- One in four women over the age of 18 experiences incontinence episodes.
- About 25 million people have been diagnosed with urinary incontinence in the United States, and 75-80% are women.
- On average, women wait 6.5 years from the first time they experience symptoms until they get a diagnosis of their bladder control problem (s).
- Stress urinary incontinence, the most common form of incontinence among women, affects approximately 15 million adult women in the United States.
What types of women’s urinary incontinence exist?
Stress incontinence: If coughing, laughing, sneezing, or other movements that can put pressure on your bladder cause you to leak urine, you may have stress incontinence. The physical changes that result from pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause often cause stress incontinence. This type is more difficult to prevent, as it is related to your body’s changes during these stages.
Urge incontinence: If you leak urine for no apparent reason after suddenly feeling the need or urge urinating, you may have urge incontinence. A common cause of urge incontinence is improper bladder contractions. Abnormal nerve signals can be the cause of these bladder spasms. Some elements present in this type of incontinence include that your bladder empties during sleep, after drinking a small amount of water or when you touch the water or hear it running (such as when you wash the dishes or listen to someone else takes a shower). Certain fluids and medications such as diuretics or emotional states such as anxiety can make this condition worse. Some medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and uncontrolled diabetes, can also urge incontinence or worsen.
Overactive bladder: Overactive bladder occurs when the nerves that send signals to the bladder are affected. These signals come at the wrong time, causing your muscles to contract without warning. For many women, it is normal urinating up to seven times a day, but women with an overactive bladder may find that they must urinate more frequently.
Functional incontinence: Women with medical problems that interfere with their thinking, movement, or communication may have trouble getting to the bathroom. A person with Alzheimer’s disease, for example, may not think well enough to plan a timely trip to the bathroom. A person in a wheelchair may have difficulty getting to the bathroom on time. Functional incontinence is the result of these physical and medical conditions.
Overflow incontinence: Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder does not empty properly and causes it to overflow. Your doctor can look for this problem. Weak bladder muscles or a blocked urethra can cause this type of incontinence. Nerve damage from diabetes or other diseases can weaken the bladder muscles; tumors and urinary stones can block the urethra. Overflow incontinence is rare in women.
In some women, more than two types of incontinence can be mixed.
How to prevent it?
Now you know that you and the important women in your life are not alone; almost half of women experience urinary incontinence during their lives. I want to share some ideas with you about this problem, and invite you to start taking care, if you haven’t already, to improve.
If you still do not have this problem, you must practice some strategies to reduce your risk.
Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight can put extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder and other internal organs. This can lead to stress incontinence, which causes urine to leak out when you laugh a lot, cough, or sneeze.
Strengthen your pelvic floor. Performing Kegel exercises frequently can strengthen the muscles that make up the pelvic floor and potentially help prevent urinary incontinence. According to experts on the subject, you should contact the vaginal and anal area muscles as if you were controlling gas. Squeeze, hold for five seconds, relax, and repeat. Doing 10 to 15 repetitions three times a day can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles over time.
Regularly practice exercise. In addition to Kegel exercises, stay active. One study showed that more active women were less likely to develop incontinence.
Stop smoking. Researchers have found that cigarette smoking is linked to a type of incontinence known as urge incontinence, in which the urge urinating is often felt.
Can women urinary incontinence be treated?
Urinary incontinence can be treated, and in many cases, it can be totally reversed. It depends on your will and perseverance to follow your health professional’s instructions in almost all conditions. Some supplements have been clinically tested and shown to reduce daytime urinary frequency, night urination, bladder accidents, and the need to wear incontinence pads.
To the above recommendations, you can add a few other behavioral remedies: Bladder retraining. You can create a diary, record when incontinence events occur and under what circumstances. By looking at the journal together, your healthcare professional can help you create a schedule to use the bathroom, a timed urination habit. As you gain control, you can extend the time between scheduled trips to the bathroom.
You can talk about medical treatment if none of these strategies work. Your health care professional may recommend supplements, medications, or surgery, depending on your situation.
If you end up experiencing urinary incontinence, know that the problem is treatable. There are several treatment options, so be sure to discuss the problem with your health professional.