If you see your gynecologist for regular check-ups, chances are high that you have discussed bladder control. Urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control, is an extremely common condition that affects millions of women of all ages. But, due to embarrassment or discomfort, some women don’t tell their physician about the problem right away and continue to live with bothersome symptoms.
If you have been too embarrassed to discuss bladder control problems in the past, it’s time to talk with your gynecologist. Remember, your physician’s goal is to help you with any health issues you are experiencing, but they can’t help you if they are unaware of a problem. Urinary incontinence can sometimes be a sign of another health issue – so it’s best to get it checked out to rule out other health problems.
Bladder problems are not “normal”
Many women believe the misconception that a little bladder leakage or strong urges to go is just part of life – as such, they may try to ignore these problems for months or even years. Although urinary incontinence is extremely common, it is still a serious problem, and it can be treated with a variety of methods.
There are several different types of urinary incontinence. The two most common types that affect women are:
- Stress urinary incontinence — SUI is characterized by leakage when coughing, sneezing, standing up, or otherwise putting pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. This type of incontinence may occur after pregnancy and childbirth.
- Urge incontinence — urge incontinence is sometimes called overactive bladder. You may have a strong, sudden urge to urinate, or you may have to urinate frequently (more than 8 times a day). Often, the urge is difficult to control and you may leak when trying to get to the bathroom.
Some women have a combination of these two types of incontinence. If you are experiencing symptoms of incontinence, you may be referred to a urogynecologist, who has advanced training in treating women’s urinary and pelvic floor problems.
Treatment for incontinence
According to the American Urogynecologic Society, up to 90 percent of women who seek treatment for urinary incontinence will achieve improvement in their symptoms. Your treatment will be customized for you based on your health, lifestyle, and specific test results. Here are a few of the most common treatment options:
- Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
- Bladder retraining exercises.
- Limiting fluid intake at certain times. Excess fluid intake can sometimes make overactive bladder worse.
- Avoiding spicy foods and caffeine. This strategy is often recommended for overactive bladder or urge incontinence.
- Medications. A variety of prescription options are approved to treat various types of incontinence.
- A pessary. This is a plastic ring worn inside the vagina to help support the bladder. It is sometimes used when pelvic prolapse is causing your incontinence.
- Surgery. There are several types of surgery that can be performed when lifestyle changes and/or medications do not alleviate incontinence. Your urogynecologist can discuss the choices and which procedure is best for you.
Don’t let embarrassment hold you back from talking with your physician. With today’s advanced treatments and the expert staff at CarePoint Health’s Urogynecology Department, you can find relief from incontinence. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services at CarePoint Health, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.