Incontinence In Women
Urinary incontinence is an inability to hold your urine until you get to a toilet. More than 13 million people in the United States male and female, young and old experience incontinence. It is often temporary, and it always results from an underlying medical condition.
Women experience incontinence twice as often as men. Childbirth, menopause and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference. But both women and men can become incontinent from neurologic injury, birth defects, strokes, multiple sclerosis and physical problems associated with aging.
Older women, more often than younger women, experience incontinence. But incontinence is not inevitable with age. Incontinence is treatable and often curable at all ages. If you experience incontinence, you may feel embarrassed. It may help you to remember that loss of bladder control can be treated. You will need to overcome your embarrassment and see a doctor to learn if you need treatment for an underlying medical condition.
If coughing, laughing, sneezing, or other movements that put pressure on the bladder cause you to leak urine, you may have stress incontinence. Physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause often cause stress incontinence. It is the most common form of incontinence in women and is treatable.
If you lose urine for no apparent reason while suddenly feeling the need or urge to urinate, you may have urge incontinence. The most common cause of urge incontinence is inappropriate bladder contractions.
Involuntary actions of bladder muscles can occur because of damage to the nerves of the bladder, to the nervous system (spinal cord and brain), or to the muscles themselves. Multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons disease, Alzheimers disease, stroke, and injury including injury that occurs during surgery all can harm bladder nerves or muscles.
People with functional incontinence may have problems thinking, moving, or communicating that prevent them from reaching a toilet. Conditions such as these are often associated with age and account for some of the incontinence of elderly women in nursing homes.
If your bladder is always full so that it frequently leaks urine, you have overflow incontinence. Weak bladder muscles or a blocked urethra can cause this type of incontinence. Nerve damage from diabetes or other diseases can lead to weak bladder muscles; tumors and urinary stones can block the urethra. Overflow incontinence is rare in women.
The first step toward relief is to see a doctor who is well acquainted with incontinence to learn what type you have, such as a urologist , a doctor who specializes in the urinary tract. To diagnose the problem, your doctor will first ask about symptoms and medical history. Your pattern of voiding and urine leakage may suggest the type of incontinence. Other obvious factors that can help define the problem include straining and discomfort, use of drugs, recent surgery, and illness. If your medical history does not define the problem, it will at least suggest which tests are needed.