Lake Forest urogynecologist answers, “What is urinary incontinence?” and other frequently asked questions
Women of all ages can be affected by urinary incontinence. Even though this condition is extremely common, affecting up to one in ten women under the age of 65 and 35% of women ages 65 and older, it can be embarrassing and dramatically affect your quality of life. At Partners in Pelvic Health in Lake Forest, IL, Dr. Sanjay Gandhi works with you to understand what is causing incontinence issues and creates a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. Here, Dr. Gandhi answers the question, “What is urinary incontinence?” and other frequently asked questions.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the loss of control of your bladder. It can range in severity from occasional dribbles of urine when you are laughing, coughing, jumping, or sneezing to extremely strong urges to urinate that can be so intense that you can’t make it to the bathroom in time.
What are the different types?
There are several different types of urinary incontinence, including:
- Stress incontinence: this is one of the most common types of incontinence, and it occurs when pressure is placed on your bladder (such as when you are exercising, laughing, lifting heavy items, or sneezing), causing urine to leak out
- Overflow incontinence: this type leads to dribbling of urine due to the incomplete emptying of your bladder
- Urge incontinence: this type of incontinence causes you to have an intense urge to urinate suddenly, which can result in involuntary loss of urine; it also causes the need to urinate very frequently, both during the day and at night
- Functional incontinence: this occurs when a mental or physical impairment causes urinary issues, such as arthritis that keeps you from being able to get up in time to get to the toilet
- Mixed incontinence: some people are affected by more than one type of incontinence; in this case, it is called mixed incontinence
What are the symptoms and causes?
The biggest symptom of urinary incontinence is the accidental leakage or release of urine. The triggers vary by the type of incontinence, however, stress incontinence occurs when there is a physical pressure placed on the bladder, whereas urge incontinence can strike after suddenly changing positions, hearing water run, and during sexual intercourse. Overflow incontinence can be triggered by obstructions in the urinary tract or a damaged bladder, and functional incontinence can occur due to a lack of dexterity, dementia, confusion, poor mobility, eyesight problems, or other physical or mental issues.
Can it be fixed?
Yes! In most cases, the symptoms of urinary incontinence can be effectively managed or eliminated, helping you get your normal life back. There are a wide variety of treatment options for all types of urinary incontinence.
How is it treated?
Urinary incontinence is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of another underlying condition or physical issue. As a result, Dr. Gandhi creates your individual treatment plan only after conducting a thorough examination and review of your medical history and symptoms, because treating the underlying condition is just as important as the urinary incontinence. Treatment options vary based on what is causing it, and can include:
- Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, called Kegel exercises, to help control when you urinate
- Training the bladder to help you regain control over it, which can include delaying urination when you get the urge to go, urinating twice in rapid succession to fully empty the bladder, and urinating on a specific time schedule, such as every hour
- Medications such as anticholinergics to calm your bladder, topical estrogen to strengthen the urethral and vaginal tissues, and tricyclic antidepressants may be used
- Medical devices designed to help urinary incontinence may also be recommended; there are several different types of devices that can be used for different symptoms
- Surgery is sometimes recommended if other treatments have failed
Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, watching how much liquid you consume, cutting back on alcohol, and reducing citrus juices and carbonated beverages can also help.
How do I schedule an appointment?
Urinary incontinence does not need to rule your life! Help is just a phone call away. Call Partners in Pelvic Health, with convenient locations in Lake Forest, Park City, Chicago, and Woodstock, at (844) 327-1188 to schedule an appointment today.