Can’t Stop The Leak?

Urinary Incontinence is a loss of control of the bladder, which can happen at varying degrees. Some women with urinary incontinence leak urine by accident or frequently need to empty the bladder. About 33% of Americans experience urinary incontinence, particularly older women. The condition can be distressing and sometimes embarrassing. Urinary incontinence often goes unaddressed, but still affects social lives and interpersonal relationships. Getting medical help from an OB/GYN is often the first and best step to stopping the leak.

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Signs of urinary incontinence

Women with urinary incontinence will first notice minor leaks. These leaks happen after certain actions like laughing, coughing, or physical activity. The condition evolves into more moderate amounts of involuntary leakage. This sign is common when the body produces more urine than the bladder can accommodate. Another symptom is an increase in the frequency of urination. Some women also notice an inability to empty the bladder, damp underwear, or bedwetting. Certain drinks, food, and medication increase the risk of urinary incontinence. Other causes include pregnancy, menopause, or neurological disorders. These causes create minor to moderate leakage, so look for accompanying symptoms and consult an OB/GYN immediately.

How can your OB/GYN help?

An OB/GYN understands the embarrassment and frustration women face with urinary incontinence. The doctor will commend the patient for seeking help and provide several treatment options. For instance, bladder training which combines kegel exercises and relaxation techniques improves continence over time. Other lifestyle changes include dietary changes and timing the consumption of liquids. Some doctors also recommend supplements to support the overall health of the bladder. Typical examples include vitamin D, saw palmetto, and magnesium. Medication, a catheter, protective garments, or pads are helpful options. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses electrodes to stimulate and strengthen the bladder muscles. TENS may require several sessions but can improve symptoms.

Turning to surgery

There are a few surgical options the OB/GYN can suggest to improve bladder function. Bladder neck suppression, for instance, helps if the bladder is out of position due to weak pelvic muscles. The procedure lifts the bladder using sutures or grafted tissue. Some women can benefit from prolapse surgery, which supports the bladder by adding tissue or an artificial mesh to the pelvic floor. Finally, an artificial urinary sphincter inserts a special ring around the neck of the bladder. This ring reduces the need to urinate. Today, many of these procedures are minimally invasive and the doctor will choose the best solution possible.

Possible complications

Urinary incontinence comes with additional risk and complications if left untreated. These can include sores, rashes, and urinary tract infections. Women can also experience prolapse when part of the vagina, urethra, and bladder shifts to the entrance of the vagina. Patients often tend to discount the psychological impact of living with this complication. There is often social anxiety accompanied by depression. Women experiencing the issues described should also seek counseling.

Get help

For relief from urinary incontinence, see an OB/GYN as soon as possible. A conversation can be the first step in clearing up bladder issues. Next, the patient and doctor will discuss the frequency, medication, or possible lifestyle habits to help determine the best course of action. From there, the doctor will try several non-surgical and surgical options to stop the leaking.

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