I know…it’s not a topic to talk about in polite company…but it’s a topic that needs to come out of the closet.
Millions of women (and men) experience incontinence. Urinary incontinence (UI) is the involuntary loss of urine.
For some women, it’s a few drops when they cough, run or lift. For others, it may be a large amount. This is called “stress urinary incontinence”. Some women get an urge to urinate, but before they can get to the bathroom, their bladders lets loose. (This is called “urge incontinence”, many women know this as “gotta go”. This is the once we all see on TV these days.) Many women will experience both.
UI can range from slightly bothersome to totally debilitating. It can affect a women’s professional, public and family life. It often keeps women from going out and enjoying themselves.
Even worse, it can affect a woman’s close relationships, as UI can occur during sexual activity. Needless to say…there is tremendous emotional distress.
While UI affects men, it is twice as common in women. It’s thought that pregnancy, childbirth and menopause play a role as well as the female anatomy. Causes for both men and women can include neurological injury, birth defects, stroke, MS, or physical problems associated with aging.
Younger women can and do experience UI, though it’s far more common in the older woman. But before you jump to conclusions…it does NOT occur in all older women. In other words, incontinence is not an inevitable part of aging.
So what can be done about this? First of all, if you are experiencing UI, please speak to your health care provider about possible solutions. A good assessment will guide your treatment. While many people will suggest surgery, the latest guidelines are encouraging providers to try conservative measures and medications (if indicated) first. In our office, we are launching The Uro-Health Program which will offer women evaluations and options for non-surgical treatment.
Are there things you can do to reduce your risk of UI?
Absolutely. While I’ll be writing about this in future articles, you can start with watching the foods and fluids you consume, get the proper exercise, perform Kegals (but you need to do them correctly) and maintain a healthy weight. More tips are forthcoming…so keep an eye on this blog.