Bladder leakage, or urinary incontinence, is incredibly common, especially among older women. In fact, women are more than twice as likely as men to experience urinary incontinence, and roughly 40% women aged 65 and older have urinary incontinence. However, common doesn’t mean normal.
At Advanced Women’s Healthcare, our providers understand both how common and how embarrassing urinary incontinence is. Leaking urine can be uncomfortable, stop you from doing things you enjoy, and weaken your self-confidence. There are treatments that can help!
Different types of urinary leaks
There are different types of urinary incontinence. The most common is stress incontinence. If you leak urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, pick up something heavy, or otherwise put your bladder under stress, you’ve experienced stress incontinence.
Another common form of urinary incontinence is urge incontinence. If you’ve ever felt that you needed to get to the restroom immediately, and perhaps not quite made it there in time, you’ve experienced urge incontinence. This type of leaking can also make you feel an urgent need to urinate more than eight times per day or to wake up in the night to go to the bathroom.
Sometimes urge incontinence is called overactive bladder because you may feel the urgent need to urinate, run to the restroom, then barely urinate at all.
It’s possible, and not unusual, to have both of these types of incontinence. That’s called mixed incontinence.
Causes of the common forms of urinary incontinence
Stress incontinence is usually caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. These muscles form a sort of hammock that holds your pelvic organs, including your uterus and bladder. When they are weak, there’s more pressure on your urethra and your bladder than there should be.
The additional pressure makes it harder for your urethra to remain closed, resulting in urinary leaks.
Urge incontinence may be caused by a malfunctioning of the signals from your bladder to your brain and vice versa. Your bladder signals that it’s full, and your brain says “Go! Now!” but your bladder isn’t actually full, or the signal is too strong causing you to lose control.
There are two noninvasive and effective treatments for these common forms of urinary incontinence. One is a program of physical therapy to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, and the other is bladder training. There are other treatments, as well, depending on your situation and needs.
At Advanced Women’s Healthcare, Stephanie M. Rutherford, PT, MPT, PRPC is a physical therapist specializing in pelvic health. She’s undergone training specifically to help women learn to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.
Bladder training involves “teaching” your bladder when to signal that your bladder is full. Re-establishing proper communication between your bladder and your brain can help more than you might imagine.
Other treatments may include:
- Support devices such as a pessary
The treatment that’s most appropriate for you depends on a host of factors, and our experts take all of those factors into consideration before suggesting a treatment approach for you. The important thing for you to know is that, although urinary incontinence is common, it doesn’t have to be normal for you.
If you have questions or you’d like to learn more, schedule an appointment at Advanced Women’s Healthcare. Simply give us a call at 309-808-3068, and we’ll be happy to help you.