Ask your doctor about how to better manage urinary incontinence with a variety of treatments and lifestyle changes.
Urinary incontinence refers to the leaking of urine, whether light, heavy, infrequent, or severe. This type of bladder condition affects women through short-term conditions like bladder infections or certain medications, or long-term conditions like neuromuscular or pelvic support problems. Depending on the type of incontinence you face, your need to urinate may gain in frequency over time, sometimes causing pain and discomfort. In more severe cases, you may feel the need to empty your bladder during the night or you may even wet your bed.
In the United States, 18 million women suffer from urinary incontinence, making women 4-5 times more likely than men to experience incontinence at some point in their lifetime. While the prevalence of this condition increases with age, many of those experiencing this condition are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Despite the large number of people affected and across such a wide age range, many sufferers are embarrassed to bring up the issue with their doctor. To gain a proper diagnosis, you need to visit your doctor, so throw any embarrassment you may feel aside. Your doctor can help determine which type of incontinence you are experiencing and recommend lifestyle changes or treatment options so that you can be on your way to maintaining a more comfortable and healthy lifestyle.
Tips for Managing Urinary Incontinence
If you experience urinary urgency or frequent urination, your doctor will most likely diagnose you with urge incontinence, which is due to hyperactive bladder muscles. On the other hand, many women will be diagnosed with stress incontinence if you experience bladder leaks during physical activity or while laughing, coughing, or sneezing. Sometimes, both of these conditions can be the cause of your overactive bladder, making managing the condition a two-fold challenge.
While your overactive bladder may be linked to the particular type of urinary incontinence you have, there is hope. Here are some things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms and prevent uncomfortable accidents.
- Manage a healthy balance of fluid intake by limiting what you drink. Don’t try to avoid drinking fluids as a whole, especially since drinking less water may lead to bladder infections.
- Switch to low-impact exercises like swimming, or pilates, if high-impact sports or activities are too hard on your bladder.
- Perform Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Stop smoking.
- Seek treatment for chronic coughing and constipation.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Be vigilant and empty your bladder regularly, especially before leaving your home or office.
Whenever you’re in an unfamiliar place where these tactics cannot be as easily managed, like a restaurant or conference center, immediately locate the bathrooms as soon as you get there. If the bathrooms are not clearly marked, ask a waiter or worker where the bathrooms are located to plan ahead and relieve a bit of your anxiety.
Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
Always seek advice from your gynecologist regarding the best treatment options for your specific incontinence diagnosis. The good news is that not all conditions require invasive methods, and most conditions are treatable through a variety of therapies.
Some of the more common treatment options are:
- Lifestyle changes
- Bladder training
- Physical therapy, such as pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation
- Devices, such as a pessary (a removable device placed inside the vagina)
- Medication therapy
- Bulking agents, which are injections used to thicken urethra tissues
If you experience pain or a sense of urgency when you urinate, or find yourself needing to urinate frequently or while sleeping, ask your doctor for help. Mentioning your concerns to your doctor about managing urinary incontinence can help you take back control of your body.
For even more information on managing urinary incontinence, contact The Woman’s Clinic or schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified gynecologists today.