Urinary incontinence is leaking of urine that you can’t control. Many American men and women suffer from urinary incontinence. We don’t know for sure exactly how many. That’s because many people do not tell anyone about their symptoms. They may be embarrassed, or they may think nothing can be done. So they suffer in silence.
What is Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence can affect emotional, psychological and social life. Many people who have urinary incontinence are afraid to do normal daily activities. They don’t want to be too far from a toilet. Urinary incontinence can keep people from enjoying life.
Many people think urinary incontinence is just part of getting older. It is important to know that it can be managed or treated.
A quarter to a third of men and women in the U.S. suffer from urinary incontinence.
Studies show that many things increase risk. For example, aging is linked to urinary incontinence. Pregnancy, delivery, and number of children increase the risk in women. Women who have had a baby have higher rates of urinary incontinence. The risk increases with the number of children. This is true for cesarean section (c-section) and vaginal delivery.
Women who develop urinary incontinence while pregnant are more likely to have it afterward. Women after menopause (whose periods have stopped) may develop urinary incontinence. This may be due to the drop in estrogen (the female sex hormone). Taking estrogen, however, has not been shown to help urinary incontinence.
Men who have prostate problems are also at increased risk. Some medications are linked to urinary incontinence and some medicines make it worse. Statistics show that poor overall health also increases risk. Diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and smoking are also linked.
Obesity increases the risk of urinary incontinence. Losing weight can improve bladder function and lessen urinary incontinence symptoms.
What are the types of urinary incontinence?
There are four types of urinary incontinence:
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
With SUI, weak pelvic muscles let urine escape. It is one of the most common types of urinary incontinence. It is common in older women. It is less common in men.
With SUI, physical activity puts pressure on the bladder. Then the bladder leaks. Leaking may happen with exercise, walking, bending, lifting, or even sneezing and coughing. It can be a few drops of urine to a tablespoon or more. SUI can be mild, moderate or severe.
There are no FDA approved medicines to treat SUI yet, but there are things you can do. Ways to manage SUI include “Kegel” exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor as well as surgical options.
Visit the link to learn more about Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
Overactive Bladder (OAB)
OAB is another common type of urinary incontinence. It is also called “urgency” incontinence. OAB affects more than 30% of men and 40% of women in the U.S.
With OAB, your brain tells your bladder to empty – even when it isn’t full. Or the bladder muscles are too active. They contract (squeeze) to pass urine before your bladder is full. This causes the urge (need) to urinate.
The main symptom of OAB is the sudden urge to urinate. Another symptom is having to urinate many times during the day and night.
Visit the link to learn more about Overactive Bladder.
Mixed Incontinence (SUI and OAB)
Some people leak urine with activity (SUI) and often feel the urge to urinate (OAB). This is mixed incontinence.
With overflow incontinence, the body makes more urine than the bladder can hold or the bladder is full and cannot empty thereby causing it to leak urine. In addition, there may be something blocking the flow or the bladder muscle may not contract (squeeze) as it should.
One symptom is frequent urinating of a small amount. Another symptom is a constant drip, called “dribbling.”
Treatment options will be determined based on extensive discussion and evaluation by your physician. Many of the surgical and medication treatment options are addressed elsewhere on this site as well as via the links above.