Urinary incontinence is the involuntary release of urine when the individual laughs, coughs, sneezes or performs some other movement that causes pressure on the bladder. Women experience this problem at twice the frequency of men. It can be an embarrassing problem that causes individuals to restrict their activities to prevent accidents.
Dr. Sherry Thomas is world-renowned for her skill and expertise in women’s health. She can help with the treatment of female incontinence. To schedule your appointment, contact Dr. Sherry Thomas today to get all your questions answered and find out the best treatment options for you.
Causes of Female Incontinence
Females may be at higher risk for urinary incontinence because of a number of factors:
- Urinary tract infections – The short urethra in women makes them vulnerable to bacterial infections that can cause temporary incontinence problems.
- Constipation – The proximity of the rectum to urinary structures and nerves can create pressure that causes temporary incontinence.
- Pregnancy – The increased internal pressure of the growing fetus can cause stress incontinence.
- Childbirth – Delivery of a baby can damage muscles and ligaments that support the bladder and can also cause damage to nerves.
- Hysterectomy – Removal of the uterus can damage muscles involved in urinary function.
- Menopause – Menopause causes a reduction in estrogen in women’s bodies, a hormone that helps to keep the linings of the urethra and bladder in good condition.
- Aging – Natural aging causes the bladder to be less able to hold urine effectively.
- Obstruction – Blockages in the urinary system can cause disruptions in the normal flow of urine and may lead to incontinence.
- Neurological diseases – Conditions such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor or stroke can damage nerve signals and can lead to incontinence.
Diagnosis of Incontinence Problems
In order to find an effective treatment for urinary incontinence, physicians must determine the underlying cause of the problem.
- A urine test can detect infection in the urinary system.
- Compiling a “bladder diary” can tell the physician how much the patient drinks, how frequently they void and under what circumstances incontinence occurs.
- Post-void residual measurement, measuring the amount of urine left in the bladder after voiding, can provide information about blockage or nerve damage to the bladder.
- Urodynamic testing uses a catheter inserted into the bladder to determine the strength of bladder walls and urinary sphincter condition.
- Cystoscopy inserts a tiny lens into the urethra to detect abnormalities.
- Cystogram inserts a dye into the bladder to learn how the bladder empties.
- Pelvic ultrasound can detect any abnormalities in the urinary system.
Options for Treatment
After determining the source of the problem, the physicians may order any of a number of treatments for incontinence:
- Bladder training, such as urinating on a schedule, holding urine for longer periods of time or fluid management can help some patients.
- Pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen the structures that hold the bladder.
- Anticholinergic drugs can help to calm overactive bladders.
- Topical estrogen creams can help to tone tissues in the urinary tract and genital areas.
- Mirobegron, a drug that relaxes the bladder, can help patients to hold more urine.
- Mechanical devices, such as pessaries or urethral inserts, can reduce stress incontinence.
- Bulking compounds can be injected into tissue around the urethra to reduce leakage.
- Botox, generic name botulinum toxin A, injected into bladder muscles can make reduce sensitivity that causes incontinence.
- Nerve stimulators can be surgically implanted under the skin to stimulate nerves and prevent incontinence.
- A number of surgical procedures can be done to increase support to the bladder and urethra to reduce incontinence.