May 17, 2018 Source: Internal - Aly Evangelista
Urinary incontinence occurs when urine escapes the bladder unintentionally and typically affects women more than men as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, weak/ overactive bladder muscles and nerve damage. This phenomena is debilitating and involuntary, however, it is something that is very common and can be treated in various ways.
There are seven different types of urinary incontinence in women. The first type being stress incontinence, which pertains to small amounts of urine escaping the tract during physical movement (i.e. coughing, sneezing). The next type being urge incontinence, which refers to the leakage of large amounts of urine during unexpected times. Next, there is overactive bladder incontinence which refers to frequent urination, as well as overflow incontinence which relates to small leakages of urine due to a full bladder. Furthermore, there is functional incontinence which refers to urination due to physical disability, external obstacles or mental problems that prevent a person from getting to the toilet on time. Finally, the last two types are: mixed incontinence (which pertains to the combination of stress and urge incontinence together) and transient incontinence (which occurs due to temporary situations such as infection, new medication, etc.).
Although women are typically more likely to develop urinary incontinence, there are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing it, such being age (which changes over time), being overweight, smoking, having a family history (of urinary incontinence), as well as possessing any other diseases such as neurological diseases or diabetes.
To determine your exact diagnosis, your doctor may ask you to keep a journal to track the number of times you urinate and the amounts that you produce. In addition, your doctor may measure your bladder capacity and can refer you to a specialist, such as a urologist (which specializes in the urinary tract), or a gynecologist/obstetrician (which specializes in the female reproductive tract). Upon referral, these doctors will be able to recommend a variety of other tests such as a bladder stress test, urinalysis, ultrasound, cystoscopy or urodynamics.
Urinary incontinence can be treated in many different ways, and doctors typically rely on the bladder diary to analyze the time intervals between trips and will help patients gain control over their bladder. Additionally, doctors can suggest for patients to practice kegel exercises which strengthen the bladder and pelvic muscles, as well as devices such as biofeedback or neuromodulation. Doctors can also prescribe medications for overactive bladder or injections/surgery for stress incontinence.
If left untreated for a long period of time, it can lead to a variety of complications, such as skin problems, urinary tract infections and having an affect on your personal life due to its debilitating nature.