Urinary incontinence in women

Today’s topic provides just one more piece of evidence that God is, indeed a man. As if it is not bad enough we have to get fat and give up wine and sushi for nine months, reproducing also leaves us with a slew of leftovers – stretch marks, hemorrhoids, elephant skin and saggy boobs to name just a few. Other than insanity, one of the most debilitating “side effects” of having children is urinary incontinence. I really hope these kids remember what we did for them when we are old and infirm. I plan on reminding them early and often.

1. Urinary incontinence is when you accidentally leak – or pour – urine.

2. Types – There are two major types that affect women. Stress incontinence occurs when a mechanical force puts pressure on the bladder causing it to spill some urine. Jumping, jogging, sneezing, laughing, etc. are all culprits. Urge incontinence is when you cannot make it to the bathroom on time. It can happen with a strong need to urinate or with no warning at all.

3. Causes – Anything that weakens the muscles of the pelvic floor, like pregnancy, vaginal deliveries and weight gain, causes the bladder to drop toward the vagina. This makes it much more difficult, if not impossible, to tighten the muscles that will stop the flow of urine. When there is extra pressure on the bladder from coughing, laughing, jumping, etc., urine can spill out. Urge incontinence is a result of overactive bladder. Anything that affects the nerves that supply the bladder and the sphincters can cause incontinence. Temporary incontinence can be a result of a urinary tract infection, constipation or certain types of medication.

4. Treatment – You have all heard of Kegel exercises. Just like any illness or disorder, everyone understandably wants an easy fix they don’t have to work at. Unfortunately, the best treatments for mild urinary incontinence are lifestyle modifications. Do Kegel when you can, avoid caffeine, limit alcohol intake, empty your bladder frequently, avoid constipation and maintain a healthy weight. Sorry – I am just the messenger.

5. More aggressive treatment – If lifestyle modification does not work, your doctor may recommend special injections or a device called pessary. Surgery is also an option.

I can live with the no jumping or jogging. Cutting back on laughter is an entirely different matter – not happening. My daughter says you get 7 seconds added onto your life every time you laugh. I believe her.

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