Women's Health

Urinary Incontinence

What is Urinary Incontinence?

  • Many women suffer from some type of urinary incontinence
  • SUI is caused by weakening of the pelvic muscles that support the bladder and urethra, the thin tube that releases urine from the body.

If urinary incontinence affects your quality of life in any way, such as restricting activities or limiting social interactions, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor.

Treatment options are widely available that may make a difference for you.

Symptoms and Types of Urinary Incontinence

Symptoms will vary for different types of incontinence:

  • Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
    Unintentional urine leakage during exertion, activity or movements, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing and exercising. This is also referred to as stress incontinence, this is the most common type of incontinence.
  • Urge Incontinence
    The sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by urine leakage. You may feel like you can never get to the bathroom fast enough or you may wake several times a night with the strong urge to urinate. This is also commonly known as overactive bladder or OAB.
  • Mixed Incontinence
    Occurs when women have symptoms of both stress and urge incontinence.
  • Overflow Incontinence
    Occurs when the bladder doesn’t completely empty. It may be caused by dysfunctional nerves or a blockage in the urethra that prevents the flow of urine.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Many women assume urinary incontinence is a natural part of aging or an inevitable consequence of having children. This is not necessarily true. Urinary incontinence can affect women at any age and in many cases is a treatable medical condition.

Physical problems or hormonal changes weaken the ligaments and muscles that support the bladder and urethra, causing incontinence. Common causes are:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Chronic heavy lifting or straining
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Coexisting conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse

Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence

To effectively treat your condition, it is important for your doctor to identify which type of urinary incontinence you have. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and do a pelvic exam. Additional diagnosis methods may be used, such as:

  • Cough Test: Cough with a full bladder to observe leakage
  • Urodynamics: A variety of methods can be used to evalute your bladder and urethral function
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