Urinary incontinence, the involuntary leakage of urine, is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Nearly half of all women will experience some form of urinary incontinence during their lives. It is a common problem and can negatively affect physical and emotional well-being in patients.
As a physician, I see many women dealing with the inconvenience and embarrassment of urinary incontinence. Patients are often reluctant to initiate discussions about their incontinence due to shame, lack of knowledge about treatment options and fear of surgery.
Types of urinary incontinence:
Stress urinary incontinence is leaking of urine with coughing, sneezing, running, jumping and sex. This is related to weak or damage pelvic floor muscles. It is more common in younger women who have given birth vaginally.
Urge urinary incontinence is the sudden and overwhelming urge to urinate, with leaking of urine. It is more common in older women who are overweight, have diabetes and neurological problems such as dementia or strokes.
Sometimes patients can have both types of urinary incontinence, and we call that mixed urinary incontinence.
Here is how to take control and get your life back…
1. Talk to your doctor who can help you identify and improve some of the medical factors that can be causing or worsening your urinary incontinence. Certain medical problems such as uncontrolled diabetes, menopause, bladder infection, constipation and medications can be the cause of the problem. Know that it may take time to fix the problem and see positive results.
2. Lifestyle changes, physical and behavioral therapies are extremely important and the preferred first-line method of treatment before considering medications and surgery.
*Watch your fluid intake and limit caffeine and acidic drinks such as alcohol, tea and sodas. Also if your problem is worst at night consider decreasing fluid intake in the evening.
*Lose weight, especially around the abdomen since the fat around that area can create pressure on the bladder.
*Exercise, the more active you are, the less likely you suffer from urinary incontinence. Focus on the abdomen and pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor exercises called Kegel exercises really work.
*Bladder training or scheduling bathroom visits can help to train an overactive bladder.
If after doing lifestyle changes, physical and behavioral modifications the problem persists, go back to your health care provider and find other options. For menopausal women, vaginal estrogen can help but takes a few months to see results. There are also medications that can help you have a better control of your bladder but are not free of side effects and can cause constipation, dry mouth, dry eyes and confusion.
If you suffer from urinary incontinence, know that you are not alone and many things can help you take control and get your life back.
For more information about this topic contact us at Ginecología Integral.