Urinary incontinence in Women– when you accidentally leak urine, is a very common and often embarrassing problem. More than 4 in 10 women 65 and above suffer from such loss of bladder control. That’s millions of women who are struggling to hold in their urine. Though it occurs more often as you tend to get older, this problem isn’t a result of ageing and can be easily treated.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are several different types of urinary incontinence. The most common types are:
- Stress incontinence: This often results from weakened pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. With this type, coughing, laughing, sneezing or other movements can put pressure on the bladder and cause you to leak urine. Some other reasons include pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or lifting something heavy. Sudden physical activity can also cause stress or pressure on the bladder resulting in urine leakage
- Urge incontinence: This type is also known as the overactive bladder (OAB) where you have a sudden urge to urinate and use the toilet, but you may not reach there in time. A common cause for this is inappropriate bladder contractions. You may need to urinate throughout the night, at times. This is more common in older women who can sometimes suffer from urine leakage when they least expect it, such as when they hear or touch running water.
What Are The Causes Of Urinary Incontinence in Women?
There are numerous factors that contribute to urinary incontinence. Some of them are:
- Urinary Tract Infection: Your bladder can get easily irritated by any infections which can cause strong urges to urinate, and sometimes incontinence.
- Constipation: A full bowel can put pressure on the bladder and obstruct the flow of urine or affect the capacity of the bladder. This can make you feel that you need to go to the bathroom more frequently.
- Caffeine: Food and beverages like caffeine, carbonated beverages, and artificial sweeteners can fill up your bladder really fast and cause involuntary loss of urine. As per studies, there are more chances for a woman to suffer from urinary incontinence if she consumes more than two cups of drinks per day with caffeine in them.
- Pregnancy: All the hormonal changes that a women’s body goes through during pregnancy can cause stress incontinence.
- Childbirth: Vaginal delivery can weaken muscles that are needed to control the bladder functions and can also cause damage to the bladder nerves leading to a weaker pelvic floor.
- Menopause: The oestrogen levels of a woman decrease when she is at menopause. This causes the pelvic floor to become weaker and increase the likelihood of incontinence.
- Nerve Damage: Any damage to the nerves can send signals at the wrong time or no signals at all to the bladder. Health issues like diabetes can add to the nerve damage in the bladder or the urethra.
- Overweight: Increased weight can add more pressure on the bladder leading to weaker muscles over time.
- Surgery: Any surgeries like hysterectomy that involve a woman’s reproductive organ can cause damage to the pelvic floor muscles.
- Neurological Disorders: Disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or a brain stroke can also damage the nerve signals involved in bladder control leading to urinary incontinence.
How Can You Prevent Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence in women is not medically-dangerous. There are measures that you can take to prevent a leaky bladder. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor is likely to suggest the least invasive treatments first.
- Do Your Kegels: Kegel exercises are especially beneficial if you have recently had a baby. These pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and prevent stress incontinence. To do such Kegel exercises:
- Squeeze the pelvic muscles that you make use of to stop the flow of urine. However, don’t practice this while urinating.
- Hold for a count of 10 seconds and then relax for 10 seconds.
- Work up to three sets of 10 repeats.
- Keep Your Weight In Check: The higher the Body Mass Index (BMI), the higher is your risk of urinary incontinence. Extra weight puts added pressure on the bladder and nearby muscles that become the cause for incontinence later on. Your doctor can refer you to a good dietician to chalk out a plan for you to lose weight, in case you are overweight.
- Bladder Training: Begin by tracking how frequently you need to visit the toilet every day. Then start trying to delay your urination by holding it off for 10 minutes. Gradually increase the gaps between every consecutive visit till you are only urinating once in every 2.5 to 3.5 hours.
- Keep A Check On Your Eating Habits: Avoid consuming drinks with caffeine or alcoholic drinks that naturally make you urinate more. You should also skip citrus juices and fruits that can irritate the bladder.
- Quit Smoking: Cigarettes can be highly irritable to your bladder. And so it goes without saying that this is one habit that you should totally put away. Not just bladder cancer, smoking can also cause lung cancer and cervical cancer. Skip it; you will give your body a reason to thank you for.
- Treating Constipation: Your doctor may advise you to include more fibre in your diet as that can treat constipation. Lesser constipation automatically means lesser chances of urinary incontinence because of it.
Other than these remedies that you can use to treat urinary incontinence in women at home, if these fail, your doctors can go in for medications, electrical stimulation, interventional therapies, or surgeries as the last stage. Almost 80% of the incontinence cases can be treated, so it is important that you visit a doctor.
If you are struggling with incontinence issues, you can visit us at rapidphysiocare.com. You can also get in touch with us by calling us on +65 6904 4900 or sending an email at [email protected] Our team of qualified experts consist of healthcare professionals with many years of experience and deep knowledge. We will work with you to diagnose and offer the best treatment options for you so you can go back to being healthy at your earliest.