Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are two types of urinary incontinence, though it’s possible for some women (particularly older women) to have both at the same time. These types are:
- • Stress incontinence: Stress incontinence, the most common bladder control issue for women, occurs when you put pressure on the bladder. Certain movements like coughing, laughing, running and others may cause stress incontinence..
- • Urge incontinence: This describes a strong need to urinate with an inability to reach the toilet in time. Urge incontinence is possible even when the bladder only has a very small amount of liquid inside it, and women can leak urine without warning.
Causes and Symptoms
In general, bladder control problems can be caused by muscular weakness in the urinary tract or by damage to this tract or the nerves that manage urination. Other causes of stress incontinence may include:
- • Childbirth
- • Weight gain
- • Any other condition that stretches the muscles in the pelvic floor, which lowers bladder support
Urge incontinence, on the other hand, is due to an overactive bladder. Causes include:
- • Emotional stress
- • Bladder irritation
- • Brain conditions like Parkinson’s disease or stroke
- • Unknown – in many cases, doctors simply won’t know the cause
The primary symptom for both forms of urinary incontinence is involuntary urination. Women with stress incontinence, may only leak a small to medium amount of urine after laughing, exercising, sneezing or any other activity that puts pressure on the bladder. Women with urge incontinence, however, may release a larger amount of urine and may feel sudden urges often.
Treatment and Prevention
Treating urinary incontinence is different for every patient, and it depends on the kind of incontinence you have and how much it’s bothering you. Treatments may include designated exercises, bladder training, a pessary or medications. Your doctor may also combine these treatments.
For some people, making healthy lifestyle changes can be enough to manage or prevent urinary incontinence. These may include:
- • Smoking cessation
- • Eating foods high in fiber to avoid constipation, which can result in pressure on the bladder
- • Using the bathroom at designated times every day. Wear clothes that are easy to take off, and chart a clear path to the bathroom
- • Performing Kegel and other exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor
- • Limiting caffeinated drinks, fizzy beverages and alcohol (to one drink per day at most)
- • Keeping weight in a healthy range
- • Tracking symptoms and urine leakage, and sharing this information with your doctor to help find the right treatment
Your doctor can offer further prevention and treatment methods if you’re dealing with urinary incontinence.
I practice the full range of family medicine including obstetrics, pediatrics, adolescent medicine, adult medicine and some orthopedics. I also perform colposcopy, cryotherapy and vasectomies. Due to the volume of deliveries we do, my practice has evolved to be more centered on women and children’s medicine, although I enjoy all aspects of family medicine.