The unintended passing of urine is known as urinary incontinence. Millions of individuals are estimated to be impacted by this widespread issue. Urinary incontinence comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Stress incontinence: When your bladder is under pressure, such as when you cough or laugh.
- Urge incontinence: When you have a sudden, strong urge to urinate.
- Overflow incontinence (chronic urinary retention): When your bladder cannot completely empty itself, resulting in frequent leaking.
- Total incontinence is when your bladder is completely unable to hold any pee, causing you to continually leak or pass urine.
- Additionally, stress urine incontinence and urge incontinence can coexist.
When to consult a doctor
If you have any form of urine incontinence, visit a doctor. Since urinary incontinence is a common issue, you shouldn’t feel awkward discussing your symptoms with them. This may also be the initial step in determining how to handle the issue successfully.
Depending on whether you have a vagina or a penis, your doctor may perform a pelvic examination or a rectal examination to determine the cause of your urinary incontinence. The doctor could also advise you to keep a record of how much fluid you consume and how frequently you need to urinate.
Causes of urinary incontinence
- The muscles needed to control urine, such as the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter, are typically weakened or damaged in cases of stress incontinence.
- Overactive detrusor muscles, which regulate the bladder, frequently cause urge incontinence when weakened or damaged.
- An obstruction or blockage in your bladder, which stops it from emptying completely, is a common cause of overflow incontinence.
- Total incontinence may result from a spinal injury, a congenital defect affecting the bladder, or a tiny hole that can occur between the bladder and an adjacent location (fistula).
- Urinary incontinence is more likely under certain situations, such as, increasing age, even though incontinence is not a necessary aspect of ageing.
Symptoms of urinary incontinence
The symptoms of urinary incontinence can vary depending on the type of incontinence, but some common symptoms include:
- Urge incontinence: A strong, sudden urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine.
- Stress incontinence: Leakage of urine during activities that put pressure on the bladder, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising.
- Overflow incontinence: Constant or frequent dribbling of urine due to a bladder that doesn’t empty completely.
- Functional incontinence: Inability to reach the toilet in time due to a physical limitation, such as arthritis or a mobility impairment.
- Mixed incontinence: A combination of symptoms from different types of incontinence.
In general, urinary incontinence can cause embarrassment and social isolation. It may also lead to skin irritation, UTI and other complications. It’s important to see a doctor if you experience any symptoms of urinary incontinence, as there are many treatment options available.
Treating incontinence of the bladder
A) Non-operative therapies
A doctor may first recommend some simple measures to determine if they help alleviate your problems. These may consist of lifestyle adjustments such as:
- Reducing coffee and alcohol intake.
- Reducing weight.
- Practising pelvic floor exercises which strengthens the pelvic floor by squeezing them.
- Bladder training that teaches you how to wait longer between needing to urinate and passing pee.
Utilising incontinence supplies like absorbent pads and portable urinals may also help you. In the event that you are still unable to control your symptoms, medication may be advised.
B) Surgical procedures
There are several surgical procedures that can help treat urinary incontinence, depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some common surgical procedures include:
- Sling procedure: A small piece of mesh is placed under the urethra to support it and prevent leakage during physical activity.
- Bladder neck suspension: The bladder neck is suspended to a nearby structure such as the pubic bone to prevent leakage during physical activity.
- Pubovaginal sling: A strip of mesh or other material is placed under the urethra and attached to the pubic bone, providing support and preventing leakage.
- Bulking agents: Injectable materials are used to bulk up the urethra to reduce leakage
- Artificial urinary sphincter: A device is implanted around the urethra to help control urine flow.
- TOT (transobturator tape): A small strip of mesh is passed through the obturator foramen and fixed to the pubic bone to provide urethral support
- TVT (tension-free vaginal tape): A strip of mesh is passed through the vagina and fixed to the pubic bone to provide urethral support.
It’s important to note that surgical procedures for urinary incontinence carry risks, such as bleeding, infection, and complications related to anaesthesia, as well as potential side effects, such as pain and discomfort. Also, these procedures may not always be successful, and in some cases, may require revision. Therefore, it’s important to discuss all treatment options with your doctor and to find the best option that suits you.
Preventing incontinence of the bladder
Although urine incontinence cannot always be avoided, there are certain measures you may take to help lessen the likelihood that it will occur. These consist of:
- Keeping at a healthy weight.
- Avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption.
- Keeping fit, especially making sure your pelvic floor muscles are strong.
A) Healthy weight
Obesity might increase the likelihood of developing urine incontinence. By maintaining a healthy weight via regular exercise and a nutritious diet, you may be able to reduce your risk. To get your healthy weight for your height, use the healthy weight calculator.
B) Drinking patterns
A doctor can provide you advice on how much liquids you should consume based on the specifics of your bladder issue.
Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine-containing beverages including tea, coffee, and cola if you experience urine incontinence. These can aggravate your bladder and make your kidneys generate extra urine.
Try drinking less water in the hours before bed if you experience nocturia, the need to pee often at night. Make sure you still consume enough liquids during the day, though.
C) Abdominal exercises
The muscles that regulate the flow of urine from your bladder might become weaker during pregnancy and after giving birth. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles when pregnant may help you avoid incontinence. Also, pelvic floor exercises can help everyone by strengthening their pelvic floor muscles.
In conclusion, urinary incontinence is a common condition that affects millions of people, both men and women. It can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, causing embarrassment, social isolation, and complications. There are many treatment options available, including lifestyle changes, pelvic floor muscle exercises, medication, and surgery. It’s important to see a doctor if you experience symptoms of urinary incontinence, as early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better outcomes.
Different types of incontinence may require different treatment options, and it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action. Surgery can be an effective treatment for urinary incontinence, but it also carries risks and side effects. It’s important to weigh the potential benefits and risks of surgery with your doctor, and to consider all treatment options before making a decision.