Female urinary incontinence is a common condition affecting millions of women in the United States and abroad. Unfortunately, this condition causes significant embarrassment for women, making it difficult for our patients to discuss with their physicians. The spectrum of the condition is vast and can be slightly bothersome or totally debilitating. For some women, the risk of public embarrassment keeps them from enjoying many activities with their family and friends. Urine loss can also occur during sexual activity and cause tremendous emotional distress. If you have female urinary incontinence, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Older women experience incontinence more often than younger women. Many factors account for this difference, including loss of estrogen production following menopause, multiple child births with prolonged labor and large babies, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. Incontinence occurs because of problems with muscles and nerves that help to hold or release urine.
There are different types of incontinence:
1. STRESS INCONTINENCE:
If you leak only during coughing, laughing, sneezing, or other movements that put pressure on the bladder, you probably have stress incontinence. The pelvic floor muscles that support your bladder may be weakened, therefore allowing your bladder to move down. This prevents muscles that ordinarily force the urethra shut from squeezing as tightly as they should. As a result, urine can leak into the urethra during moments of physical stress. Stress incontinence also occurs if the squeezing muscles weaken.
Treatment for stress incontinence is very successful. An exercise program such as Kegels exercises can help strengthen the muscles back into shape. Alternatively, a surgical approach may be required to correct the anatomical defect. This type of surgery is typically done through a vaginal approach with minimally invasive techniques, reducing the scarring, recovery, and pain associated with surgery. Rest assured that Dr. Mirhashemi will individually tailor your therapy and apply the latest techniques to correct your problem.
2. URGE INCONTINENCE and OVERACTIVE BLADDER
If you lose urine after suddenly feeling the need or urge to urinate, you may have urge incontinence. This occurs due to inadvertent and inappropriate bladder contractions. These involuntary bladder contractions occur due to abnormal nerve signals. Urge incontinence can mean that your bladder empties during sleep, after drinking a small amount of water, or when you touch water or hear it running (as when washing dishes or hearing someone else taking a shower). Certain fluids and medications such as diuretics or emotional states such as anxiety can worsen this condition. Some medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and uncontrolled diabetes, can also lead to or worsen urge incontinence.
The treatment for urge incontinence is usually medical and involves giving medicines that block the abnormal nerve signals. Sometimes the abnormal nerve signals can be controlled by implantable nerve conduction devices that can permanently correct the problem.