Get ready to talk about an issue no one wants to admit. Urinary incontinence. Female incontinence is a common problem for women of all ages and it happens for a variety of reasons. In this article, we will talk about the main causes and solutions to prevent female incontinence. We’ll also discuss what you can do if you need medical intervention.
What is Female Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control. It means that you can’t hold your urine long enough to get to a bathroom in time. There are different kinds of urinary incontinence and they all have their own names: stress urinary incontinence (SUI), urge urinary incontinence (UUI), overflow incontinence, functional incontinence, and mixed incontinence.
Leaks can happen for a variety of reasons, but first, let’s talk about what each of these types means.
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI)
Stress urinary incontinence is when you lose urine during physical activity, like laughing or exercising. It happens because the muscles that hold the bladder in place weaken as we age and as a result, those muscles can’t support your bladder anymore.
Urge urinary incontinence
Urge urinary incontinence (UUI) is also called overactive bladder syndrome and it’s caused by an intense urge to urinate. This urge might occur even if your bladder isn’t full and urine leaks as a result.
This kind of urinary incontinence happens when the bladder is too full, which makes it difficult to hold any more urine in there. Having weak bladder muscles can make this condition worse. Women often don’t even feel the urge to urinate when this happens.
Functional incontinence is a less common kind of urinary incontinence that’s caused by physical limitations. If you have arthritis or another condition that limits your mobility, it might be harder for you to get to the bathroom in time.
The last type is called mixed and it means more than one cause of feminine urinary incontinence. A mix of these causes can often lead to a more serious urinary incontinence that is harder to solve.
What Causes Female Incontinence?
There are many factors that can cause you to have a problem with female incontinence.
These factors include:
- Childbirth: Childbirth is a common cause of incontinence because it can stretch the muscles that keep your bladder closed. If you have gone through multiple pregnancies, then this kind of urinary incontinence might be more likely to happen.
- Pregnancy: Another possible explanation is pregnancy itself. Pregnant women often experience incontinence because their abdominal muscles are stretched and weakened during this time. There is also pressure applied directly to the bladder as the uterus enlarges throughout pregnancy.
- Cancer treatments: Cancer treatments are often what causes female incontinence in older women who are diagnosed with cancer. Nerve damage, vomiting, hormone changes, and irritation to the bladder can contribute to women losing control of their bladder.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes can also be a cause of urinary incontinence in women. This includes the decrease of estrogen and testosterone during menopause, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Estrogen keeps the bladder and urethra healthy and functioning correctly. A drop in this hormone will cause the muscles in the pelvic floor to weaken.
- Age: As we get older, our bladder muscles tend to weaken which often leads to more issues with female incontinence.
- Physical activity: A physical activity like weight lifting can be a cause of female incontinence. It’s caused by the pressure placed on your abdomen and bladder during exercise, which often leads to leakage or loss of urine.
- Lifestyle factors: Smoking is one example of what women do every day that could have an impact on their urinary health. Smoking results in a chronic cough for many, and this, in turn, puts pressure on the pelvic muscles. Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol can also contribute to urinary incontinence, but it’s important to note that the risk of this kind of incontinence goes away when you stop drinking too much coffee and alcoholic beverages.
- Obesity: Being overweight is another lifestyle factor that could lead to an increased chance of developing female urinary incontinence. It’s caused by the weight of excess fat pressing down on your bladder, which can make it harder to control.
- Diabetes: Diabetes can also impact urinary incontinence in women. It’s caused by the nerve damage that happens when your blood sugar levels are too high for a long period of time.
- Medications: The side effects of some medications might be contributing to female incontinence issues, which could lead you to experience leaks or loss of urine while taking certain medications. Four of the medications that may cause this type of incontinence are high blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, diuretics, and sleeping pills.
- UTI: Urinary tract infections are another common cause. This happens when the bacteria in your urinary system becomes out of control, which can lead to an infection or irritation that could impact your bladder function. Other infections can cause bladder control issues as well.
Tips to Stop Feminine Urinary Incontinence
There are some lifestyle tips that can help you stop feminine urinary incontinence.
- Exercise regularly: Exercising on a regular basis is one of the best things women can do to improve their bladder control and minimize leakage. This includes kegel exercises, which target your pelvic muscles. It’s important not to over do these exercises, but rather do them on a regular basis. This will help you gain more control over your bladder and make it easier to hold urine in when necessary.
- Manage weight: If you are overweight, losing some of the excess pounds can have a direct impact on how likely incontinence is to happen. A healthy diet plan and regular exercise can help you achieve this goal.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Drinking more water and other low-calorie drinks is often recommended if you’re experiencing urinary incontinence issues. These liquids will help keep your bladder healthy by flushing out the bacteria in it so that it doesn’t become an issue for future infections or problems.
- Quit smoking: This is another one of the best things you can do to prevent incontinence. Smoking weakens your bladder muscles, which makes it harder for them to control urine flow when necessary. It’s also important not to drink too much caffeine or alcohol while trying to stop urinary incontinence because both of these substances could make the problem worse.
- Limit medication use: If you are taking any medications, talk to your health care professional about how it might impact urinary incontinence and what alternatives there might be that don’t cause this type of issue. Taking high blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, diuretics or sleeping pills may increase your chances for experiencing issues with incontinence.
- Seek treatment: If you are experiencing urinary incontinence issues, it’s important to seek help from your women’s health care professional right away. There could be an underlying medical condition that is causing the problem and getting treated for this issue will make a big difference in how likely leaks or loss of urine will happen.
How to Treat Female Incontinence?
The treatment for female incontinence will depend on the cause of your problem, but there are some common treatments that can help you manage urinary leakage or loss of urine if it happens.
Medications for female incontinence
There are a number of medications that can help treat incontinence, including anticholinergics and beta-blockers. These might be prescribed if the problem with your bladder is caused by an overactive or misfiring nerve in your pelvic area. You could also take medication to control how much urine you make each day.
In some cases, bladder training might be a treatment option. This can include a schedule to drink more fluids during the day and urinating before you go to bed at night. It also includes doing Kegel exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles in order for them to work correctly when needed.
Electrical stimulation is a treatment used for stress incontinence. It works by sending an electrical impulse to the pelvic floor muscles, which causes them to contract and close tightly around your urethra.
Surgery for female incontinence
There are some cases that require surgery to help manage urinary leakage or loss of urine. This could include a sling procedure, which is used if you have stress incontinence. It places a hammock-shaped support around your urethra so it can’t leak when pressure is applied during activities
Pelvic floor physical therapy
If you have pelvic pain, urinary issues, constipation, problems with stool passage, painful sex, or low back pain that is caused by your pelvic floor muscles not working correctly, then your doctor may recommend trying Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy.
Contact Cool Springs OBGYN for Help With Urinary Incontinence
If you’re suffering from urinary incontinence and it’s affecting your daily life, then contact Cool Springs Obstetrics & Gynecology to learn more about treatment options that can help.
You can reach us at (615) 690-6600 in Cool Springs, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN.