Urinary incontinence (UI) is the loss of urine control. You may not being able to hold your urine until you can reach a restroom. It may be a short-term problem caused by another health issue. Or it may be a long-term problem that you’ll have to manage. UI can range from a slight loss of urine to severe, frequent wetting.
Fear of wetting yourself can keep you from enjoying activities with your family and friends. Incontinence during sex can cause great stress.
UI is not a normal part of aging, but it is common in older people.
The following are some of the different types of UI:
Changes from certain diseases or medicines may cause UI. It may also happen at the start of an illness.
Women are most likely to have incontinence during pregnancy and childbirth. Hormone changes of menopause may also cause it. This is because of weakened and stretched pelvic muscles.
Some of the other common causes include:
These are the most common symptoms of UI:
The symptoms of UI may look like other conditions or health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The most important step in diagnosing UI is talking to a healthcare provider. Don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting help.
It’s important to see a health care provider for a physical exam that focuses on the urinary and nervous systems, reproductive organs, and includes testing urine samples. You may be referred to a urologist or urogynecologist, a healthcare provider who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract.
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment based on:
Treatment for UI depends on the cause and may include the following.
These will to help you regain bladder control. They include:
o Bladder training. This teaches you to resist the urge to void and expand the times between voiding over time.
o Scheduled toileting. This therapy uses routine or scheduled toileting, habit training schedules, and prompted voiding to empty the bladder every 2 to 4 hours to prevent leaking.
This will improve pelvic muscle tone and prevent leakage. This treatment includes:
o Kegel exercises. Regular, daily exercise of pelvic muscles can make the bladder muscles stronger and improve, and even prevent, urinary incontinence. This is most helpful for younger women. Should be performed 30 to 80 times daily for at least 8 weeks.
o Biofeedback. Used along with Kegel exercises, biofeedback helps you gain awareness and control of their pelvic muscles.
o Vaginal weight training. Small weights are held within the vagina by tightening the vaginal muscles. This may be done for 15 minutes, twice daily, for 4 to 6 weeks.
o Pelvic floor electrical stimulation. Mild electrical pulses stimulate muscle contractions. This may be done along with Kegel exercises.
You can also manage incontinence with other devices and products. This includes catheters, pelvic organ slings, urethral plugs, urine collection systems, and penile compression devices. Talk to your health care provider about which treatment might work best for you.
Consult your health care provider with your questions about the management and treatment of UI.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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