Many people never seek treatment for urinary incontinence because they are too embarrassed to ask their healthcare provider about the issue or were told urine leakage is a normal part of aging and to “just deal with it.” Luckily, this is far from the truth; current interventions can cure or greatly improve the symptoms of urinary incontinence for more than 80% of women and other people who suffer from urinary incontinence.
Many people can regain bladder control and avoid leakage with very simple interventions. For instance, in those with urinary urge incontinence (leakage due to an incontrollable urge), control can often be restored by retraining the bladder through behavioral modifications, restoring pelvic floor muscle health or avoiding certain foods or beverages that irritate the bladder. If these methods are not successful, medications to restore bladder control can be used with good results. In some extreme cases where medicine is not effective or not tolerated, bladder control can be restored with either an implant, similar to a pacemaker but for the bladder, or Botox injections into the bladder wall.
Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and anatomy place women at a higher risk for a type of leakage called stress incontinence. The common complaint from people with stress incontinence is urine leakage with exertion, exercise or even just a cough, laugh or sneeze. Many people can regain bladder control by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through simple exercises, either with written instructions or with the guidance of a physical therapist. (At least 80% of people who attempt physical therapy report they are much improved or cured.) These improvements can last as long as a person’s commitment to keeping the pelvic floor muscles strengthened. If physical therapy does not stop the leakage, there are nonsurgical and surgical options to choose from – both of which are about 90% effective.
Don’t let embarrassment or misinformation stop you or someone you love from seeking treatment for urinary incontinence. Leakage does not have to be a part of life you “just deal with” – there are effective options that will allow you to regain control and get back to just living – spread the word! Learn more about urogynecology services at WHA >