Women’s Health A-Z
For many women, it’s common for the muscles that control holding and passing urine to weaken and change. When some women experience a leak, it is just a few drops. For others, it’s much more. And for all who experience it, urinary incontinence is a major concern.
Stress urinary incontinence, or leaky bladder, affects 1 in 3 women over age 45 and half of all women over age 65. The loss of urine typically occurs during activities that increase abdominal pressure, like exercising, sneezing, coughing, and laughing.
Pelvic floor disorders affect the set of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue in the lowest part of the pelvis. Importantly, the pelvic floor supports a woman’s internal organs, including the bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. When these muscles tear or weaken, women may experience pain and urinary or bowel incontinence.
There are many causes of urinary incontinence. Childbirth and age can be factors as both may cause damage or deterioration to the supportive muscles and tissue around the bladder and pelvis. Women who have had hysterectomies may also experience damage to the pelvic floor, which can cause incontinence issues. A leaky bladder may also happen with pelvic prolapse.
- Urine leaks with activities such as laughing, exercising, and sneezing
- Sudden or frequent urge to urinate
- Difficulty starting your urine stream
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Feeling that you can’t completely empty your bladder, which may cause urine leaks
Urinary Incontinence Diagnosis & Treatment
Your urogynecologist may run several tests to check for the causes and type of urinary incontinence that you have. Your physician may order tests that include urinalysis, blood tests, ultrasound, physical examination, or urodynamics.
Treatment for urinary incontinence may vary based on the type and severity that you are experiencing, but it is important to note that relief is possible. Whether you need surgical intervention, or you can find relief with physical therapy, such as Kegel exericises, your provider will help find a solution that fits your needs.