Incontinence in Women

Incontinence in Women

Women's urinary incontinence is defined as the loss of bladder control.

There are five types of urinary incontinence.

  • Stress Incontinence: Stress incontinence is defined as urine leakage when one exerts pressure on the bladder. It is commonly caused by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting something.
  • Urge Incontinence: Urge incontinence is defined as the intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine.
  • Overflow Incontinence: Overflow incontinence is defined as frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to incomplete bladder emptying.
  • Functional Incontinence: Functional incontinence is defined as a physical or mental impairment that keeps one from making it to the toilet in time.
  • Mixed Incontinence: Mixed incontinence is defined as a combination of the above types of incontinence.

Causes of Women's Incontinence

Urinary incontinence in women may manifest as a temporary problem or a permanent condition. There are different causes for each type.

Causes of temporary urinary incontinence include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Artificial sweetener
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy food
  • Certain heart and blood pressure medications, sedatives and muscle relaxants

Risk Factors of Women's Incontinence

Risk factors for urinary incontinence include:

  • Gender (Women are more likely to have stress incontinence than men due to pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.)
  • Increased age
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Family history of urinary incontinence
  • History of diabetes

Permanent Incontinence Women

Causes of permanent urinary incontinence in women include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • A hysterectomy
  • Obstruction (A tumor or urinary stones in the urinary tract can block urine flow leading to overflow incontinence.)
  • Neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease

Diagnosing Urinary Incontinence

Your physician will first want to determine the type of incontinence you are experiencing. This will be done by performing a complete history and physical exam. Next, you will most likely undergo a urinalysis to check for infection. A post void residual measurement may also be taken to measure urine output. It is also possible that your physician will recommend you keep a bladder diary for several days to record your fluid intake and urination.

Treating Urinary Incontinence

There are a number of treatment options for incontinence. The treatment option chosen by your physician will depend on the type and severity of the incontinence.

Treatment options include:

Common medications used to treat urge incontinence include anticholinergics and Myrbetriq.

Behavioral techniques such as bladder training, double voiding, scheduled toilet trips and fluid and diet management may be recommended as natural way to regain control of your bladder.

Kegel exercises are a type of exercise working the pelvic floor muscle. These exercises can be very effective in combating stress incontinence and can also help with urge incontinence.

Interstim therapy is used to treat urge incontinence. It uses a small, implanted medical device to send electrical pulses to the sacral nerve located above the tailbone. This nerve controls the bladder and surrounding muscles that manage urinary function. The electrical stimulation helps to reduce bladder control symptoms.

The female sling is an invasive surgery used to combat stress incontinence. A synthetic mesh is used to create a pelvic sling around the urethra and bladder neck. This sling helps to keep the urethra closed when coughing or sneezing.