Have you ever sneezed and realized a bit of urine escaped? Or had a very sudden urge to go to the bathroom but failed to make it in time? These kinds of things happen when you have urinary incontinence.
Dr. Parisa Pourzand and her staff have helped hundreds of women with urinary incontinence. We understand that it’s a difficult problem to discuss, but we want you to know two things: you’re not alone and there are treatments.
Although men and women can experience urinary incontinence, far more women struggle with the issue. That’s partly due to the anatomy of a woman’s body and due to the fact that pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the muscles involved in holding in urine.
There are four main types of urinary incontinence and the best treatment for you depends on which type you’re experiencing. You may also have mixed urinary incontinence, which means your problem is a combination of the types.
1. Stress incontinence
Having too many things on your calendar isn’t going to cause incontinence. In this case, the word stress describes “pressure.” If you leak a bit of urine when you sneeze, laugh, lift something heavy, or otherwise put stress on your bladder, you have stress incontinence.
The cause is usually weakened pelvic floor muscles, possibly due to pregnancy and childbirth. These important muscles may also be weakened if you’re obese, have specific neurological conditions, or if you take certain medications. The good news is that there are very effective treatments for stress incontinence.
Some lifestyle changes can help, such as avoiding things that irritate your bladder like caffeine or acidic foods, quitting smoking, or losing weight. Dr. Pourzand may recommend exercises to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Medical devices such as a urethral insert, which works similarly to a tampon, or a pessary, which is a device that supports your urethra and prevents leakage, may be helpful. Injections may be helpful, or surgery to place a sling to support your bladder are also common treatments.
2. Urge incontinence
Sometimes urge incontinence is called overactive bladder, and it is when you feel a sudden, urgent need to go to the bathroom and don’t always make it in time. Several different medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, can cause urge incontinence, as can damage to the nerves in your bladder, damage to the muscles that control your urine flow, or simply aging.
Many treatments for urge incontinence are available, including some non-invasive ones such as bladder training, scheduled bathroom trips, fluid and diet management, and medications like anticholinergics, which help to calm the nerves in an overactive bladder.
Botox® injections may help. In some cases surgery to place an artificial urinary sphincter that holds your urine in until you activate it is the best option.
3. Overflow incontinence
This type of incontinence is caused by an inability to fully empty your bladder. Because some urine remains in your bladder after you urinate, you’re prone to leakage either often or even all the time.
Treatments for overflow incontinence are similar to those for stress or urge incontinence and can include lifestyle interventions, like scheduled bathroom trips, medications, or surgery.
4. Functional incontinence
When you physically can’t reach the bathroom in time and have accidents, you have functional incontinence. Perhaps you have a broken leg and struggle to navigate, or some other medical condition that hampers your mobility.
In this case, it’s often best to address the reason you struggle to reach the restroom, rather than any issues with your bladder or urinary tract.
The fact is urinary incontinence is common but not inevitable. Dr. Pourzand and her staff are happy to help you find a treatment that works, so you don’t have to worry about urine leakage. Schedule your appointment today.