Achooo! If a simple sneeze sends you running to the restroom, you are not
alone. It’s estimated that 30% of women age 30-60 suffer from urinary
incontinence – a condition which can range from a slight leak when
coughing or sneezing to a complete loss of bladder control.
There are several different types of urinary incontinence including:
Stress Incontinence is a slight leak of urine caused by pressure on your bladder. Age, pregnancy
and childbirth, being overweight, and taking certain medications can all
lead to stress incontinence.
Urge Incontinence, also called overactive bladder, is when you suddenly have a strong urge
to urinate and may not be able to make it to the bathroom in time. This
type of incontinence can be caused by nerve or muscle damage to the bladder,
bladder stones, certain infections or medications, and some conditions
such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Overflow Incontinence is a frequent or constant dribbling of urine caused by the inability to
empty your bladder completely. Weak bladder muscles, nerve damage, tumors,
constipation, and certain medications can all lead to this condition.
Functional Incontinence happens when a physical or mental impairment, such as arthritis or dementia,
prevents you from going to the bathroom in time.
Mixed Incontinence means you have two or more types of incontinence. It’s common for
women to experience both stress and urge incontinence.
Urinary incontinence can also be temporary or chronic.
Temporary urinary incontinence is exactly that, temporary, and is usually easily treated. Certain food
and drink, such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and artificial sweeteners,
can all be bladder irritants. Heart and blood pressure medications, sedatives,
and muscle relaxants can also be the culprit as can certain medical conditions
such as urinary tract infection or constipation.
Chronic (or persistent) urinary incontinence is longer lasting and generally caused by an underlying condition or physical
change in the body. Pregnancy, childbirth, weakened bladder muscles due
to age, menopause, hysterectomy and other pelvic surgeries, certain cancers,
and some neurological disorders can all cause chronic urinary incontinence.
Good News: It Can Be Managed
Certain risk factors such as gender, age, being overweight, smoking, family
history and diseases such as diabetes, and certain neurological disorders
may make you more likely to experience urinary incontinence.
On the flip side, there are things you can do to reduce your risk for developing
this condition: maintain a healthy weight, drink plenty of fluids, eat
a fiber-rich diet, practice pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegels),
quit smoking, and avoid bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, and
If you are experiencing any form of persistent incontinence, it’s
important to speak with your doctor or gynecologist. Not only can urinary
incontinence be embarrassing, it can also impact your personal life and
relationships, cause skin irritations and rashes, lead to increased risk
of urinary tract infections, and can be the sign of other underlying health issues.
Mary Washington Healthcare’s Advanced Gynecologic Program is equipped to provide the latest treatment options for women experiencing
urinary incontinence. These range from simple lifestyle changes to medications
and devices. In some cases, surgery is the best option. Stafford Hospital
is one of only six Virginia hospitals certified as a Center of Excellence
in Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG) by the Surgical Review Corporation.
Programs that earn this designation must adhere to the highest standards
in minimally invasive gynecological surgery and meet stringent safety,
education, and quality requirements.
At Stafford Hospital, the safety and comfort of our patients is a top priority.
We offer treatment for women of all ages in a quiet, clean, and soothing
environment that is conducive to healing.
To find a COEMIG-certified physician, call MWHC Health Link at 540.741.1404.