Urinary incontinence is defined as leaking urine. Incontinence can range in severity from a few drops to emptying the bladder entirely. If you suspect you may have urinary incontinence, your gynecologist can help you evaluate your condition.
What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence?
In addition to leaking urine, urinary incontinence may involve other symptoms such as painful urination. Feeling a strong urge to urinate or urinating more frequently than normal may be a symptom of urinary incontinence. Waking up from sleep to urinate or leaking urine while sleeping may be some other symptoms.
Are there different types of urinary incontinence?
There are three main types of urinary incontinence women may experience. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) occurs when urine leaks while a woman is coughing, laughing, sneezing, or exercising. Urgency urinary incontinence involves a strong sudden urge to urinate that is hard to control. Women with this type of incontinence may leak urine while headed to the bathroom. The third type of urinary incontinence combines symptoms of both types.
What causes urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence may be caused by urinary tract infections, taking diuretic medications, or having chronic constipation. Weakening of the muscles in the pelvic floor or disruption of neurological signals from the brain to the bladder and urethra may cause incontinence issues. Anatomical problems such as bladder stones or growths may also contribute.
How is urinary incontinence diagnosed?
If you suspect you may have urinary incontinence you should visit your gynecologist for an evaluation. Your doctor will take your medical history including the details of your symptoms and physically examine you. A pelvic exam will be performed to evaluate any physical abnormalities. You may be asked to take a “cough test” in which you cough while bearing down on a full bladder to see if urine leaks. Your doctor may ask you to keep a bladder diary or wear an absorbent pad that will be weighed to determine amount of urine leaked. Further tests such as imaging, measuring the support of the urethra, or bladder function tests may be indicated.
What are the treatment options for urinary incontinence?
While surgery may help treat urinary incontinence, often times nonsurgical treatment methods are recommended first. Physical therapy, bladder training, and lifestyle changes are a few options to address incontinence issues. Certain bladder support devices, such as a pessary, may be inserted into the vagina to support the vaginal walls and lift the bladder and urethra. Medication may also be an option to treat urgency urinary incontinence.