The inability to stop urine from leaking is called incontinence, and it’s a common condition affecting millions of people worldwide — especially women. Studies show that compared with the 3%-11% of men who report uncontrolled urination, 30%-60% of women suffer from some form of incontinence, and the problem tends to increase with age.
The good news is that you don’t have to live with urinary incontinence, and if you live in or around Los Angeles, California, help is close by Kiarash Michel, MD understands the frustration you may be feeling personally and socially, and she can treat your incontinence so you can get back to life as normal. Here’s what you need to know.
What causes incontinence?
Although incontinence can strike anyone, it typically afflicts those aged 50 or older. That’s because one of the major causes of urinary incontinence is muscle weakness — a classic symptom of aging. When the muscles that support your bladder and pelvic floor lose strength, you lose the control you once had over the involuntary release of urine.
Vaginal childbirth may lead to urinary incontinence because it stretches your muscles and tissues.
Menopause can also contribute to urinary incontinence because as your estrogen levels decrease, the lining of your urethra starts to thin out and weaken.
Other conditions can also cause urinary incontinence, so you should always seek medical attention to rule out:
- Kidney stones
- Neurological disorders
- Bladder dysfunction
If you have one of these underlying conditions, your incontinence generally clears up when the cause is gone.
Understanding the types of incontinence
There’s more than one type of urinary incontinence, and understanding which you have is the key to treating it effectively.
Stress urinary incontinence
If you notice a little urinary leakage every time you laugh, cough, sneeze, or exercise, you likely have what’s called stress incontinence, the most common type among female sufferers. It’s named this because the leakage happens when physical (not emotional) stress occurs. Pressure on your bladder or abdominal muscles allows urine to pass because they aren’t strong enough to hold it in.
Urge urinary incontinence
If your urinary accidents occur when you have the urge to urinate and can’t hold it long enough to get to the bathroom, this is called urge incontinence for obvious reasons.
Overflow urinary incontinence
Sometimes, urine can leak out if you haven’t emptied your bladder completely. You may think you’ve finished your business in the bathroom but are quickly surprised to learn that there was more to go when you notice some subsequent dribbling.
Mixed urinary incontinence
Some women experience a combination of incontinence types, which is categorized as mixed urinary incontinence.
Treating urinary incontinence
Surprisingly, more than half of those who suffer from urinary incontinence don’t seek treatment, and they live with it in silence. Perhaps they don’t understand why they’re experiencing the symptoms, believe it’s an inevitable part of aging, or are just too embarrassed to discuss it.
If you’re experiencing urinary incontinence, don’t let these excuses stop you from getting the treatment you need. Dr. Michel can help you reclaim the confidence of a controlled bladder. Treatment options include:
Kegel exercises are well known for strengthening the pelvic floor and can aid in the childbirth process as well as postpartum recovery. But these pelvic workouts also strengthen the muscle responsible for keeping your urine in.
To do them, imagine trying to stop your urine stream by contracting the muscles and sphincter in your pelvic area. Some have success learning this technique by sitting on the toilet and starting and stopping the stream. Once you master it there, you can do it anywhere.
Being overweight or obese can definitely complicate urinary incontinence by keeping constant pressure on your bladder. Shedding extra pounds and increasing muscle tone may be the answer to your incontinence.
In addition to the long list of serious health risks, smoking is also linked to urinary incontinence for several reasons:
- Smoker’s cough puts stress on the pelvic floor muscles
- Smoking irritates the bladder and increases the urge to urinate
- Smoking can lead to bladder cancer
Kicking the habit may resolve your urinary incontinence.
Personalized Treatment Plans
The highly experienced doctors and staff at Comprehensive Urology can create a personalized treatment plan that may incorporate one of many possible treatments, including:
- Bladder training
- Pelvic floor therapy
- Medical devices that block urine flow
- Peripheral tibial nerve stimulation
- Urethral bulking injections
- Intravesical Botox® injections
So if your laughter-induced leaking is no laughing matter, give us a call or request an appointment online, because there’s no need to live with urinary incontinence.