Female Urinary Incontinence in Women

Female urinary incontinence can affect women of any age and needless to say it is an embarrassing problem for most women to talk openly about. It could be that for this reason a little known fact is that approximately a staggering 24% of women under 44 suffer from urinary incontinence, and approximately 23% of women over 60.

Some women only experience the problem when they laugh, cough or sneeze, whilst others leak when they are performing activities such as having sexual intercourse, lifting heavy objects or exercising. In really bad cases the urine can be leaking constantly unless the women frequently goes to the bathroom to empty her bladder. In fact the various types of urinary incontinence are individually categorised as follows:

Stress Leakage of small amounts of urine during physical movement (coughing, sneezing, exercising).

Urge Leakage of large amounts of urine at unexpected times, including during sleep.

Overactive Bladder Urinary frequency and urgency, with or without urge incontinence.

Functional Untimely urination because of physical disability, external obstacles, or problems in thinking or communicating that prevent a person from reaching a toilet.

Overflow Unexpected leakage of small amounts of urine because of a full bladder.

Mixed Usually the occurrence of stress and urge incontinence together.

Transient Leakage that occurs temporarily because of a situation that will pass (infection, taking a new medication, colds with coughing).


Seeking Treatment

The good news is depending on your individual circumstances, there are treatments available. First of all you will need to make an appointment to see a urologist, ideally one who specialises in the female urinary tract, alternatively a urogynecologist can look at the possibility of pelvic problems associated with urination.

Initially your Doctor will ask you lots of questions about the problems you have been experiencing. He may even ask you to keep a diary of the problem for a number of days. This will all help him to determine what kind of urinary incontinence you are suffering from in order to recommend the right treatment. If he has any doubts as to the cause of your specific type of urinary incontinence he will examine you to see if there are any obvious physical problems that may be responsible, e.g. pelvic growths, a weak pelvic floor or a prolapse of either your bladder or vagina.

Some other tests your Doctor may perform include:

Bladder stress test—You cough vigorously as the doctor watches for loss of urine from the urinary opening.

Urinalysis and urine culture—Laboratory technicians test your urine for evidence of infection, urinary stones, or other contributing causes.

Ultrasound—This test uses sound waves to create an image of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

Cystoscopy—The doctor inserts a thin tube with a tiny camera in the urethra to see inside the urethra and bladder.

Urodynamics—Various techniques measure pressure in the bladder and the flow of urine.

Treatments

Some of the treatments your Doctor recommend may include the following:

Injectables, e.g. Bulking agents such as collagen, Carbon-coated zirconium beads or Coaptite. are injected into tissue surrounding the urethra to help keep the urethra closed and reduce urine leakage.

Nonsurgical treatments, e.g. Kegel exercises (pelvic floor exercises). These are designed to strengthen the muscles that allow you to hold the urine within your bladder. By practicing contracting and releasing these muscles over a number of weeks for gradually increasing amounts of time, your ability to hold in, or stop the flow of urine should improve.

Bladder training, is used to treat urge incontinence. With bladder training you increase how long you can wait before having to urinate, gradually extending the lengths of time before urination after you get the urge to go.

Medications, e.g. Anticholinergic medicines relax the bladder and increase bladder capacity. Examples include oxybutynin and tolterodine.

Certain antidepressant medicines may also be used to treat urge or stress incontinence.

Surgical treatments, e.g. A Sling procedure — the most common surgery to treat stress incontinence — uses strips of your body's tissue or synthetic material or mesh to create a pelvic sling or hammock around your bladder neck and the tube that carries urine from the bladder (urethra). The sling provides support to keep the urethra closed — especially when you cough or sneeze. Slings typically have high rates of effectiveness and low risks of complications.

Intermittent Self-Catheterization is a safe procedure that can help bring your urinary symptoms under control. Many people self-catheterize and report that it has helped to improve their overall quality of life. A catheter will allow you to keep your bladder healthy, completely empty your bladder at regular intervals, protect your kidneys from infection, and eliminate the need for wearing a continuously draining catheter.

This is by no means a comprehensive article on female urinary incontinence and I have aimed to provide a general overview of the condition, as well as some ideas for what areas of the problem you might want to research next if you are looking for answers and potential solutions.

The links I have provided should help you greatly in any search for further information, both on the symptoms and the treatment options available.

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Comments 17 comments

Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Like you said this is an embarrassing subject so it's nice to get a heads up here. It's scary to think you might have something wrong with your body at any age so thanks for much for sharing this vital information with us, mistyhorizon!


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Good hub, Misty.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for the comment Ann. I have a good friend with this problem and she suffers terribly from it. She is virtually restricted to only wearing black trousers now, and has to go to the loo about every 20-25 minutes if she socialises.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Paradise, much appreciate the feedback :)


2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Very good Hub on a very 'delicate' topic. We both recommend pelvic floor exercises.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks 2patricias, definitely good advice from you there, and the kegel exercises seem to be a common recommendation by doctors. Thanks for the feedback :)


fishtiger58 profile image

fishtiger58 6 years ago from Momence, Illinois

I would also recommend the Kegel exercises they seem to have helped me thankfully. Great article misty.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Fishtiger, they do seem to work form what I am hearing. Pleased you enjoyed the article :)


sexeducationnow profile image

sexeducationnow 6 years ago

We need more people to write hubs like this that are help to the society. Thanks misty :) for the hub


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for the positive comment sexeducationnow. Please you found this hub helpful :)


rebu profile image

rebu 6 years ago from Coorg,India

Thnx for sharing


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Glad you found it useful Rebu :)


bpalmer-cichosz 5 years ago

I know kegels are often suggested as a urinary incontinence treatment. I tried them but never succeeded because I found them boring and a little confusing to do. The program that really helped me was Dr. Deborah Bowes' Pelvic Health & Awareness Program, which incorporates kegel exercises into larger movements adapted from the Feldenkrais Method. I highly recommend it because it is easy to follow and it's fast and effective. http://bestkegelexercises.com


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for sharing this link, it could be very useful to others having the same problem with the kegel exercises.


We Care 5 years ago

As I read this article I began wondering if incontinence could have been caused when we are young and healthy going at top speed and not taking time to regularly drain our bladders.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Interesting idea 'We Care' but not one I have heard before so I really don't know.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 2 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Sorry Charles Runels, you spammed this article with a link so I had to block your comment.

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