While many women often think urinary leakage is due to having children or going through menopause, incontinence at any life stage should not be considered standard. If you're suffering with leakage, just know that there is hope, as roughly 80 to 90% of women who seek help for their symptoms see an improvement. We've compiled the different types of treatment for urinary leakage so that you are able to take the next steps towards recovery.
What is Urinary Incontinence (UI)?
Urinary incontinence or leakage affects both men and women, though it is more common for women to experience these types of pelvic health symptoms. With approximately 30-50% of women suffering from one or more UI's during their lifetime, it’s essential to know what it is and how to recover.
UI is when a person is unable to control their bladder accurately which leads to leakage. Leakage of urine may occur when doing physical activities or adding pressure to the bladder by coughing, laughing, or exercising. UI can also mean that there is an inability to hold urine long enough before reaching a restroom, or that urination is far too frequent than it should be. Beyond that, symptoms may include other voiding dysfunctions such as having a difficult time emptying your bladder.
The cause of UI depends on various factors such as genetics, health conditions, and lifestyle behaviors, but there are both non-surgical and surgical treatments that aid women in their recovery process.
With a wide range of treatments, we break down some of the most common non-surgical options for women to try. These can include changing your lifestyle, seeking physical therapy, vaginal devices (like a Pessary or Interstim), trying medications, and other non-surgical procedures such as injections.
- Weight Management: If you are overweight, it’s best to start a weight loss regimen (even as little as 5 to 10% loss will help), as excess weight surrounding a bladder causes stress on the pelvic floor muscles which then leads to an increased risk for all sorts of pelvic floor disorders.
- Watch What You Drink: Drinking a lot of fluid may lead to problems with UI. It’s also best to restrict fluids after dinnertime, as it may reduce trips to the restroom. It’s also crucial to know what's in the beverages you are drinking, as some drinks may contain diuretics that aid in releasing water from the body.
- Switch Up Your Diet: Oftentimes, diet plays a massive part in UI or other pelvic floor disorders. Items like soda, chocolate, energy drinks, and tea have added caffeine which is a bladder irritant and may cause you to use the restroom more. Similarly, foods with fiber and artificial sweeteners often cause bladder muscle spasms which signal the brain that you may need to use the bathroom, leading to a potential overactive bladder.
- Quit Smoking: If you’re someone who smokes, it’s recommended that you quit. Smoking increases the risk for pelvic floor disorders.
- Exercise More: Regular physical activities will help decrease your risk for UI. It's suggested to try some pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), as control and strengthening your muscles reduces urinary leakage.
- Retrain Your Bladder: Try regaining bladder control through set schedules that you and your provider decide upon. And make sure you’re consistent, as bladder retraining may take several months.
- Short-Term Plans: One of the best short-term solutions include the use of pantiliners, pads, briefs, or diapers. Many people will use these products while their provider works on finding the best long-term option.
Beyond the treatments you may try for adjusting your lifestyle, take a look at vaginal devices like a Pessary or Interstim. These devices are inserted into the vagina to lift the bladder by applying compression, thus stopping the cause of leaking.
There are also medicines that help control how the bladder functions. Medicines used for UI block muscle spasms in the bladder or, depending on the drug, calm nerve signals to the bladder so it relaxes. Chat with your provider about whether or not medications are a good fit for your recovery process.
If medications don’t work, your provider may suggest the use of nerve stimulation or Botox and bulking agents. Nerve stimulation is done by a small needle prick within the ankle that helps stop muscle spasms.
In severe cases, surgery for urinary incontinence is needed. Those who go through surgery most likely have gone through the non-surgical treatment options first. There are four different types of surgery to aid in decreasing UI instances:
1. Sling Procedures: Traditional slings use a tissue to connect the bladder and reduce leakage.
2. Mid-Urethral Transvaginal Mesh Slings: One of the more common surgeries that provides support to the urethra to stop urinary leaking.
3. Pubovaginal or Fascial Bladder Neck Slings: Supports the bladder neck and reduces UI without the use of transvaginal mesh.
4. Burch or Marshall Marchetti Krantz (MMK) Colposuspension: Lifts the vaginal wall and supports the bladder neck without using transvaginal mesh.
Recovering with Metro OBGYN
If you’re suffering from urinary incontinence, we suggest going to see a urogynecologist who will evaluate your symptoms and find the best solution for your problems. Metro OBGYN offers several locations for those in the Twin Cities area suffering from pelvic health issues.
Are you still looking for more information about urinary incontinence? Check out our free, downloadable guide below!