Don’t let adult incontinence hold you back! Park City, IL specialist, supports urinary health
Urinary incontinence does not have to be a fact of life as you grow older; however, if urgency or leaks have become an embarrassing and life-altering problem over time, you are certainly not alone! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that four of every ten women aged 65 and older have urinary incontinence. Women are twice as likely to develop this condition than their adult male counterparts. As one of a select group of specialists who are board-certified in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (Urogynecology), Dr. Sanjay Gandhi at Partners in Pelvic Health Northshore Urogynecology in Park City, IL, is uniquely qualified to diagnose the cause of your distressing symptoms, which informs our recommendations for treatment. So, you can get on with your life with confidence!
It helps to understand how urine is produced and stored to appreciate your risks of developing urinary incontinence. Our kidneys are the “producer,” while the bladder is like our “storage unit.” The organs work together to function correctly; the bladder muscles tighten to force out urine, while the sphincter muscles surrounding the urethra ease up to allow urine to flow out. Incontinence arises when the bladder muscles tense up, but the sphincter muscles can’t control the urine from leaking through properly. They are unable to shut the urethra. The pressure caused by behaviors such as exercising, laughing, sneezing, or coughing can also contribute to leakage. Problems connected with the nerves that control the muscles and urethra may be to blame, too.
Women tend to be affected by urinary incontinence at a higher rate than men because of pelvic floor muscles that weaken or become damaged due to the effects of pregnancy, having children, and menopause. Weakened muscles are unable to adequately support the bladder, urethra, womb, and bowels. In turn, the muscles of the urinary tract must overcompensate. They have to work harder to hold the urine in, and the excessive force placed on the bladder and urethra results in leaks. Women are also more vulnerable to incontinence due to the anatomical structure of the urethra; the female urethra is shorter than the male urethra. A weakened female urethra is more likely to cause leakage problems than a damaged male urethra (less muscle is available to hold the urine inside of the body).
Other causes or factors that are linked to urinary incontinence include:
- Being overweight: Anything that puts excess pressure on the bladder can lead to leaks, including carrying extra pounds.
- Chronic constipation – The effort required to pass stool also stresses the bladder (and pelvic floor muscles).
- Conditions that cause nerve damage – Diabetes, MS, and other diseases can damage the nerves responsible for bladder control.
- Infections – UTIs and bladder infections responsible for incontinence, fortunately, clear up when the condition is resolved.
- Medications – Many drugs have incontinence as a side effect, including those used to manage high blood pressure or kidney diseases.
- Lifestyle – Watch the likes of caffeine intake; your daily coffee can have a diuretic effect, which also heightens the stress and strain placed on your bladder. Depending on what you drink (and eat), decreasing coffee and other habits can also positively affect the factors on this list (such as maintaining a healthy weight).
A note on fecal incontinence
Older women are also disproportionately affected by fecal leakage. Many of the exact causes and risk factors present with urinary incontinence, notably damage to the muscles and nerves, can also affect the ability of your sphincter to retain stool. You may have double incontinence. Research suggests that women with urge incontinence (versus “stress” incontinence associated with exercise and other forms of exertion) have a greater likelihood of suffering from fecal incontinence.
Take back your quality of life
At Partners in Pelvic Health North Shore Urogynecology, we provide professional, understanding, and advanced care. Once we have an accurate picture of the nature of your symptoms and what is causing them, Dr. Gandhi will make recommendations to improve the severity and frequency of leakage dramatically and to support sustained urinary control and health. Contact us today at (844) 327-1188 to schedule an appointment at one of our Chicagoland locations in Park City, Lake Forest, Woodstock, and Norwood Park West (Chicago).