Urinary Incontinence - the loss of voluntary bladder control resulting in urinary leakage - is a common and often embarrassing problem. Never knowing when and where you might have an accident can impact everything from work to exercise to your social calendar. One out of every three women over the age of 45 suffers from some form of urinary incontinence. Research suggests that one out of every two women over the age of 65 suffers from urinary incontinence.
There are three types of urinary incontinence: urge (often referred to as overactive bladder), stress and mixed. You may experience urge incontinence if you feel the overwhelming need to urinate even when you just went and/or being unable to hold it long enough to reach the bathroom. Stress incontinence is classified as urine loss during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing or any body movement which puts pressure on the bladder. Mixed incontinence is a combination of both urge and stress.
Urge incontinence occurs when nerve passages from the bladder to the brain are damaged, causing a sudden bladder contraction and loss of urine. Treatments have a goal to improve bladder instability. This may be accomplished through lifestyle changes, behavior modifications, dietary changes, weight loss, medications and neural stimulation.
Stress incontinence occurs when pelvic muscles have been damaged. This damage can be caused by pregnancy and childbirth, radiation, trauma, prior surgery and/or hormonal changes. Treatments are directed to strengthen or aid the pelvic muscles that have been damaged. This can be accomplished through pelvic floor exercises, support devices, bulking agents or surgery. Currently, there are no medications that treat stress incontinence.
Mixed incontinence is a combination of both urge and stress incontinence. This is often treated with a combination of both surgery and drug therapy.
Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence, the severity of your problem and the underlying cause. Treatment options range from more conservative approaches, including behavioral techniques to more aggressive options, such as surgery. There are different types of minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedures available. These minimally invasive procedures are designed to reduce recovery time for women - getting them back to doing the things they love. Your doctor will recommend the approaches best suited to your condition. Often a combination of treatments is used. It is possible that urinary incontinence may take a toll on emotional well-being. Research suggests women with incontinence have lower self-esteem, reduced sexuality, and higher levels of depression compared to those with healthy bladders. Incontinence can be effectively managed or even reversed.