The Basics of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is an issue that affects both men and women. But for today, since this issue is nearly twice in common in women as it is in men, we’re going to specifically focus on how it impacts women, as well as what can be done about it. Million of women experience a loss of urine that’s involuntary. That condition is what’s known as urinary incontinence.

The severity of UI can vary greatly from one woman to another. For some, it may simply present itself as accidentally losing a few drops of urine while coughing or running. For other women, urinary incontinence may occur as a sudden sensation to go to the bathroom, which is almost immediately followed by the loss of a significant amount of urine.

Depending on where a woman falls on the UI spectrum, the impact on her life can range from an ongoing inconvenience to something that’s nearly debilitating. For women with a more severe case of urinary incontinence, the fear of experiencing a major episode in public or during an intimate moment can leave an overwhelming cloud hanging over someone’s head.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence in Women?

There are quite a few potential causes of this condition in women. Menopause, childbirth and pregnancy are a few reasons why UI may occur. This issue can also be the result of multiple sclerosis, stroke, birth defects, neurologic injury or the structure of the urinary tract. Additionally, it’s important to note that UI is more prevalent in older women.

Even though it can be caused by quite a few different things, the actual physical process of incontinence is basically the same across all cases. What happens inside the body is urine is inadvertently released because the muscles of the sphincter aren’t strong enough to hold it back, or the bladder muscles unexpectedly contract.

Are There Different Types of Incontinence?

Yes, in addition to there being different causes of UI, there are also multiple types. The seven main categories are stress, urge, overactive bladder, functional, overflow, mixed and transient incontinence. If you’re struggling with this issue, a doctor will be able to help you identify your specific type.

Can a Woman Be Successfully Treated for UI?

While there are a handful of common causes of urinary incontinence, including age, that doesn’t mean a woman has to settle for having her quality of life negatively impacted by this condition. Instead, the good news is there are treatment options that can work and don’t require surgery. As you may have guessed, since this issue can have so many different causes, there’s not just a single treatment option that works for everyone. Instead, it’s something that a patient and her doctor need to work together on to find the right solution.

By using a variety of tests that can include a bladder stress test, urinalysis, ultrasound and/or cystoscopy, it’s usually possible to identify the cause and type of incontinence. Once that’s pinpointed, the right treatment can be selected from options like Kegel exercises, medications, biofeedback, neuromodulation and/or injections.