Urinary incontinence refers to involuntary passage of urination or loss of bladder control. This is a common and equally embarrassing problem in women post childbirth. Such accidental passage of urine may happen when one coughs, laughs, sneezes, exercises, jumps, jogs, or doesn’t reach the bathroom in time. Although, urinary incontinence affects both men and women, twice as many women end up with this condition. The topmost factors for an increased incidence of urinary incontinence in women are pregnancy, labor or childbirth, and menopause as they progressively weaken the pelvic floor muscles. However, a weak or over active bladed with abnormally weak muscles or damaged nerves may also result in urinary incontinence. Fortunately, this embarrassing condition can be treated and prevented with timely measures.
Types of Urinary Incontinence in Women
Urinary incontinence in women is of two types, Stress incontinence and Urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is much more common among women that urge incontinence. The former is caused due to weakened pelvic floor muscles from over-stretching. Generally, pregnancy, childbirth, and weight gain are responsible for such over-stretched and weak pelvic muscles. Abnormal or weak bladder muscles cause the later. The bladder muscles may be affected by irritation, frequent or severe urinary tract infections, emotional stress, and neuromuscular conditions like Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or paralysis.
Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence
The basic symptom of urinary incontinence is uncontrolled leaking of urine from the bladder. However, the symptoms often vary depending on the type of urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence is typically represented by an involuntary leaking of urine on coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercise, or jogging. In this type of incontinence, the amount of urine leaked is generally very less or moderate. On the contrary, urge incontinence is characterized by an uncontrolled and sudden urge to pass urine with moderate to large amounts of urine leaking out of the bladder.
Treatment of Urinary Incontinence
The first line of treatment for urinary incontinence includes behavioral treatment to help women time their urination for frequent toilet visits. Adjusting fluid and dietary intake and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol is also recommended. Additionally, kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles particularly for stress incontinence are also useful in treating this condition. Some women may require medications like anticholinergics, mirabegron, and topical estrogen. Other means of non-surgical treatment are tampon-like urethral inserts that function like plugs to prevent the leakage of urine or pessaries to hold a prolapsed pelvic organ in place. However, when none of these treatment methods seem to work, your doctor may advice surgery. Sling procedures, artificial urinary sphincter, bladder neck suspension, and prolapse surgery are some of the surgical options available for urinary incontinence.