Remember the last time you laughed so hard that you started coughing? If you’d prefer not to recall because you also unexpectedly leaked urine, then you may be dealing with incontinence. Surprisingly, many women simply dismiss such loss of bladder control as an unavoidable side effect of age.
Aging does contribute to female incontinence by weakening the bladder and urethra muscles, reducing the bladder’s ability to hold urine as well as its capacity to store urine. However, other factors could also be responsible.
At the Institute for Incontinence and Vaginal Reconstruction, a division of Comprehensive Urology, we are the Los Angeles incontinence specialists, and we specialize in diagnosing incontinence causes, advising patients of their risks, and helping patients learn effective prevention methods.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Incontinence is not a single disease, nor should it be treated as one. Often, it is a symptom of an underlying health issue. Also, it can be an endless source of embarrassment or inconvenience because it affects traveling, work productivity, social engagements, and self-esteem.
The following are types of female incontinence that you may be experiencing:
- Stress incontinence is associated with urine leakage due to sudden movements, such as laughing, sneezing, getting up, or coughing
- Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder (OAB), is when you have constant urges to urinate even when you don’t have a lot of urine stored in the bladder and also leak some urine; it’s an involuntary, nearly continuous urge to urinate plus leakage
- Overflow incontinence is when your bladder overflows with urine (likely due to reduced bladder sensation)
- Mixed urinary incontinence is a combination of any of the above
The type of bladder issue you have depends on a variety of conditions. However, if you are 40 or older, the following four factors could mean you are at risk of experiencing incontinence issues of some type.
Factor 1: Sex (Incontinence is More Common in Females)
Although men are susceptible to incontinence, especially if they have prostate issues such as prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate, women are more likely than men to be incontinent.
Causes of bladder issues in women can be attributed to the following:
- Pregnancy causes hormone fluctuations and extra pressure of the uterus on the bladder
- Childbirth can cause weakened vaginal muscles as well damaged nerves and tissue that can lead to a “dropped” pelvic floor muscles and finally stress incontinence
- During menopause, a loss of estrogen production can lead to a steady decline in the health of bladder or urethra tissue and lead to stress incontinence
- A hysterectomy can weaken or damage pelvic floor muscles
Factor 2: Weight (Obesity)
Being overweight is one of the major causes or worsening of incontinence, so if you are above your optimal weight, your risks have probably skyrocketed.
The excess weight literally puts pressure on your bladder and nearby muscles. The organ and its related muscles eventually weaken and leave you to deal with stress incontinence. Any cough, sneeze or other sudden movement can lead to embarrassing leakage.
For incontinence prevention, a regular exercise program and eating right helps you lose the necessary weight to reduce the pressure on your bladder and help reduce your accidents.
Factor 3: Diseases, Injuries, and Other Medical Conditions
Common causes of incontinence include a variety of medical conditions. Diabetes can increase risks by weakening sensations of the bladder. Infections, such as urinary tract infections, can cause bladder irritation and lead to temporary urge incontinence.
Neurological conditions are also nefarious causes of bladder issues, including the following:
- Spinal injury
- Brain tumor
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
As if each of the above conditions is not bad enough, they can disrupt nerve signals in the urological system and lead to bladder accidents.
Factor 4: Smoking-Related Leakage
You may be wondering how smoking can be one of the causes of incontinence, but it’s just another in a long line of harsh impacts that smoking has on the body. Smoking is one of the major causes of stress incontinence in Los Angeles due to the fact that it can cause chronic coughing.
Eventually, this causes damage to the pelvic floor muscles, weakening them and making the bladder unstable.
But that’s not all. Smoking can irritate the lining of any of your inner organs – not just your heart or lungs – and your bladder is at risk as well, which can cause symptoms of overactive bladder.
Obviously, a major prevention method is to stop smoking (or, even better, never start in the first place).
Reliable Treatment Options for Bladder Accidents
Regardless of the causes of urine leakage, you have a variety of treatment options available. You’ll have to schedule a consultation with an incontinence specialist in Los Angeles to find the appropriate treatment plan for you, but you have a choice of effective medications, non-pharmacological solutions (at Comprehensive Urology, we have our own special, customized rehabilitation programs), surgery, and more.
Learn about treating incontinence with Botox® at WebMD.com.
Talk to Comprehensive Urology Today If You Suspect You Have Incontinence
Although female incontinence is not a threat to your health, it does put your self-esteem at risk and inconvenience many aspects of your life. If you believe that your incontinence risks have increased due to your lifestyle or any other factor, don’t hesitate to contact the Los Angeles incontinence experts today at Comprehensive Urology to schedule a consultation. Call 310.307.3552 or contact us online to discuss your situation.
In a Nutshell: Female Urinary Incontinence
- Definition: Involuntary and unwanted loss of urine (from a few drops to a full bladder)
- Types: Stress Incontinence (leakage with physical activity, coughs, sneezes, laughing, etc); Urge Incontinence (urgency to go to the bathroom and accidents if not in time); Overflow (lack of bladder sensation until urine overflows), and Mixed Incontinence, which is combination of the above
- Causes: Pregnancy and multiple vaginal deliveries, menopause, overactive bladder, neurological issues, diabetes, spines issues, etc
- Treatments: Multiple options based on the cause and type of incontinence. Lifestyle modification, medications (to relax the bladder, lose weight, quit smoking), pelvic floor physical therapy and exercises, peripheral tibial nerve stimulation, surgical procedures (e.g. slings, pelvic organ prolapse repair, injection of Botox® into the bladder, sacral nerve stimulator implantation, injection of urethral bulking agents, etc. depending on the condition)