Ever found yourself struggling to “hold it in?” You sneeze only to cross your legs because you felt a bit of urine leak out involuntarily. If so, you aren’t alone. These are signs of urinary incontinence, a common disorder that prevents you from being able to hold in your urine under pressure.
Those who struggle with this disorder may experience varying degrees of incontinence, from leaking while sneezing, laughing, or feeling pressure on the abdominal muscles, to a sudden need to urinate that is so urgent, it may not allow you to get to the bathroom prior to release.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
There are several different types of urinary incontinence. Those types include:
- Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
The most common type of urinary incontinence, SUI is caused by physical stress that affects the pelvic floor muscles. This can happen if the muscles are weakened or stretched.
- Overflow Incontinence
This could be caused by a blockage, the bladder muscles’ inability to contract properly, or your body producing more urine than your bladder can contain.
- Overactive Bladder (OAB)
OAB affects over 30% of men and 40% of women in the United States alone. It causes you to have the urge to go, even when your bladder may not be full. This is typically caused by the individual’s bladder muscles being too active. For women, it often occurs after menopause or childbirth while for men it typically indicates a prostate issue.
- Mixed Incontinence (SUI and OAB)
This is literally a combination of SUI and OAB.
There are several factors that increases your chances of developing one of these forms of urinary incontinence.
- Obesity puts additional pressure upon the abdominal muscles, weakening them.
- Heavy Smoking can lead to the development of a chronic cough that can cause bouts of incontinence.
- Childbirth or Menopause can cause stress to the abdominal muscles.
- Certain Diseases, Conditions, or Surgeries can have urinary incontinence as a side effect.
- Age can also play a factor as the urethra and surrounding muscles weaken with old age.
Treatment and Prevention
Most patients can manage or stop urinary incontinence by making a few lifestyle changes. Kegel exercises specifically strengthen the abdominal muscles, allowing patients to have better bladder control. Cutting out unhealthy habits such as smoking and maintaining a healthy weight can also help.
However, in cases where urinary incontinence cannot be remedied, there are certain vaginal/urethral devices, surgeries, pads, or medicinal or minimally invasive treatments available to help manage the condition.
If you or someone you know is struggling with urinary incontinence, consult your doctor. Our urologists currently service patients across Lee County and Collier County. To make an appointment, simply give us a call at 239-333-3200.