Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence, the involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder, is actually a common issue, especially among women. Caused by lifestyle habits, pregnancy, underlying medical conditions or even genetics, urinary incontinence is not just a medical problem. It can negatively impact your quality of life and limit your social interactions.
But it’s not something you have to live with or suffer through in silence.

What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence?

  • Frequent urination
  • Uncontrollable urge to urinate
  • Involuntary leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, or exercise

How is urinary incontinence diagnosed?

Diagnosis is initially based on a history and physical exam, which helps identify the type of urinary incontinence and determines the treatment.

In addition to a history and physical, your doctor may order a urinalysis to check for signs of infection, blood, or sugar in your urine, or other abnormalities. A bladder diary is sometimes recommended before your office visit to track how much you drink, how often you urinate, and how often you are incontinent. An ultrasound or other tests may be ordered as needed.

There are many different types of urinary incontinence, but stress incontinence and urge incontinence are most common in women:

Stress Incontinence: Due to weak pelvic muscles, your bladder leaks when you cough, sneeze, exercise, or lift a heavy object.

Urge Incontinence: Also known as overactive bladder, you may need to urinate often at night or suddenly during the day followed by episodes of incontinence.

How is urinary incontinence treated?

Treatment options vary depending on the type and cause of urinary 
incontinence, with many non-surgical options available:

  • Behavioral training: Tracking your urination habits may help you identify triggers of your incontinence. After you identify your habits, you can try retraining your bladder with timed urination.
  • Estrogen replacement therapy: Hormone therapy has been found to be helpful in treating stress incontinence in women who are estrogen-deficient.
  • Electrical stimulation: Electrical impulses may improve bladder function that has been disrupted by nerve damage. The electric currents may help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and encourage proper nerve function.
  • Kegel exercises: Strengthening your pelvic floor can be an effective way to treat stress incontinence that is often a result of pregnancy.
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  • Lifestyle modifications: By maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding triggers such as alcohol, caffeine and acidic foods, and eating more fiber to avoid constipation, you may be able to relieve the symptoms of urinary incontinence.
  • Medication: Certain medications may help calm the muscle spasms that cause overactive bladder; Botox injections have been found to help relax those muscles as well. Anticholinergics such as oxybutynin (Ditropan XL) and many others have proven to be effective in managing urge incontinence. Collagen fillers can be used to stop urine from leaking.
  • Pessary: A pessary is a silicone device placed in your vagina that helps hold your pelvic organs in place and relieve the discomfort.
  • Surgery: If urinary incontinence continues to disrupt your life, surgery offers a long-term solution. There are two general types of surgical procedures for urinary incontinence: sling procedures and suspension procedures. Your doctor will tailor your surgical option to the type of incontinence you are experiencing.

Risk factors for urinary incontinence include:

  • Age: As we age, our bladder and urethra muscles lose their elasticity.
  • Gender: Stress incontinence is more common in women due to pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.
  • Genetics: Your genetic makeup may be partly to blame for an increased risk of incontinence.
  • Nerve damage: Some diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis may cause the nerve damage that leads to an overactive bladder.
  • Smoking: Smoking increases your risk of incontinence
  • Weight: Extra weight puts additional pressure on your bladder and surrounding muscles and weakens them, which allows urine to leak when you sneeze or cough.

Urinary incontinence is not always preventable. But it can be managed or treated.

Our doctors at The Center for Gynecologic Oncology specialize in diagnosing and treating urinary incontinence. As gynecologist oncologists, we understand the complicated uncomfortable nature of urinary incontinence and our goal is to facilitate the conversation and offer you the most up-to-date treatments with the best possible outcomes.

To schedule an appointment, or for more information
about our clinical trials, please call:

(954) 602-9723