Incontinence is the loss of bladder control and can involve leaking urine, wind or faeces.
Urinary incontinence is a very distressing condition that more women develop later in life though it can happen at any age. Having children does increase chances of developing urinary incontinence. There several types of urinary incontinence – stress urinary incontinence, urge urinary incontinence or overactive bladder and mixed urinary incontinence.
There are different types of incontinence
- Stress urinary incontinence is due to poor closure of the bladder. Leaking urine when you cough or laugh, usually needs surgery such as sling procedure.
- Urge incontinence due to an overactive bladder. Leaking urine accidently when there is strong urge to pass urine, usually treated with tablets.
- Overflow incontinence due to either poor bladder contraction or blockage of the urethra
- Functional incontinence due to medications or health problems making it difficult to reach the bathroom
Stress urinary incontinence occurs if you leak urine when you run, cough, sneeze, jump. It is important to establish that it is not urinary infection (UTI or bladder infection) that is the cause of stress urinary incontinence especially if you stared leaking urine recently. A simple urine test can diagnose urinary infection.The other causes of stress urinary incontinence include:
- weight gain and being overweight
- chronic cough (having a flu and coughing will almost certainly make stress urinary incontinence worse, some medications prescribed for high blood pressure cause cough and may lead to stress urinary incontinence
- ageing can cause stress urinary incontinence because vaginal wall supporting urethra looses collagen and becomes weaker, low oestrogen level in menopause leads to vaginal dryness and it can also result in urinary incontinence
- pregnancy and childbirth can also lead to stress urinary incontinence becomes of relaxing effect of progesterone on vaginal wall, weakening of vaginal wall
- The treatment of stress urinary incontinence includes pelvic floor exercise (or Kegel exercise). Patients who take up pilates also find improvement in stress urinary incontinence. Sling procedure (surgery performed under anaesthesia) treats urinary incontinence. You can read about sling procedure here
- Vaginal laser treatment is a new exciting non-surgical procedure performed in the doctor’s office without any anaesthesia works very well for mild and moderate stress urinary incontinence. Laser is also very effective in treatment of vaginal dryness (called atrophic vaginitis) that women develop in menopause. More information about vaginal laser procedure can be found here.
Urge urinary incontinence or overactive bladder is a problem when women have an urge to pass urine and leak urine before getting to the toilet or have to pass urine very frequently even at night. This condition is treated with tablets.
If you have a combination of stress and urge urinary incontinence doctor will assess your situation and will suggest treatment options for you. If urinary incontinence affects your daily activities, don't hesitate to come in and see us.