A Guide to Good Health

The Truth About Urinary Incontinence

Women of all ages suffer from urinary incontinence or the involuntary leakage of urine. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that over 50 percent of American women have experienced urinary incontinence. Although it is a common problem, many women feel embarrassed to talk about it and don't seek help. Despite its prevalence, there is still a lot of misinformation about what causes urinary incontinence, how it can be treated, and who is affected by it. Here's the truth about urinary incontinence and the facts about this common condition.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence can be caused by a variety of factors, including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, obesity, life-changing illnesses or injuries, and certain medications. Yet, for many women, the cause of their urinary incontinence is unknown.

There are two main types of urinary incontinence: urge and stress. Urge incontinence is the sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate followed by leakage. Stress incontinence is the leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting something heavy. Some women experience one or the other, while some experience a combination of both types of incontinence. 

Certain lifestyle choices can contribute to urinary incontinence. These include smoking, which can weaken the muscles that control urination, and caffeine and alcohol consumption, both of which are diuretics that can irritate the bladder and lead to frequent urination. The good news is that there are treatments available that can help lessen the symptoms of urinary incontinence.

What Are Treatments Options for Urinary Incontinence?

Kegel exercises are one of the most popular treatments for urinary incontinence. They involve repeatedly contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, which can help to strengthen them. Another option is pelvic floor therapy. This treatment is usually done in a doctor's office or clinic and includes using mild electrical currents as well as internal, manual stimulation to stimulate the pelvic floor muscles.

Surgery may be necessary to treat urinary incontinence in some cases, but it is typically only considered when other treatments have been unsuccessful. There are many surgical options available, including:

If you have urinary incontinence, don't stay silent. Talk to your doctor. There are many different treatments available that can help lessen the symptoms of urinary incontinence and give you back your quality of life.