Urinary Incontinence Treatment
Urinary incontinence in women can be caused by a variety of factors. Some women experience a temporary loss of bladder control or an increased urge to urinate after childbirth or surgery or due to aging or other underlying medical problems. Even minor leaks can affect your quality of life and lead to embarrassing and inconvenient moments. Fortunately, there are effective options available to help you find the urinary incontinence treatment that will allow you to get back to enjoying your life.
Causes of Incontinence
Finding the right treatment for urinary incontinence depends on identifying the exact cause of bladder and urinary problems. It is important to remember that incontinence isn’t considered a disease in and of itself, rather it is a symptom of an underlying issue. Getting an accurate diagnosis and finding the root of the problem will allow you to effectively treat leaks. Here are some common causes of incontinence:
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
There are certain foods, drinks, and medications that can stimulate your bladder and cause it to produce more urine than usual. This can lead to leaks and incontinence. Here are a few examples:
- Spicy foods such as peppers
- Highly acidic fruits
- Vitamin C
- Muscle relaxers and sedatives
In most cases, ingesting these foods and drinks in moderation won’t cause any problems, which means that cutting back on excessive consumption can usually provide some relief. Incontinence caused by these factors is often temporary and easily treated by making some simple dietary and lifestyle factors.
Urinary Tract Infections
Bacteria can enter the bladder and the urethra and cause a urinary tract infection, which is characterized by a strong urge to urinate and incontinence. Fortunately, these types of infections are easily treated with the help of antibiotics.
As you age, your muscles, including your bladder muscle, will naturally weaken. This can reduce the bladder’s capacity to store urine for long periods of time and cause involuntary contractions that result in urine leaks. In addition, women who are experiencing menopause will produce less estrogen, which is essential to maintaining a healthy bladder and urethra. These natural hormonal changes can also lead to urinary incontinence and are a natural part of aging.
Tumors and Medical Conditions
Tumors can form at any point throughout your urinary tract and create an obstruction that changes that natural flow of urine. Urinary stones can cause the same problems and will need to be removed. Other neurological diseases and disorders can also interrupt signals between the brain and the bladder and lead to incontinence. Strokes, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions can all affect the nervous system how it communicates with the bladder and leads to incontinence.
Women who undergo a hysterectomy can experience damage to the pelvic floor muscles. The bladder and the uterus rely on many of the same muscles and ligaments, so when the uterus is removed, the bladder may also be affected. As a result, incontinence is a common side effect of a hysterectomy and may require post-surgery treatment.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
The additional weight of the fetus can place pressure on the bladder and cause urine leaks. Hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy can also lead to something known as stress incontinence. Once the baby has been born, it may take time for the vaginal muscles to heal and regain strength. In extreme cases, a prolapse may occur during childbirth, which means that certain organs are pushed out of place and obstruct the vagina, causing incontinence. For most new mothers, these issues are temporary and will resolve themselves once the body is allowed to heal from the trauma of birth.
Diagnosing Urinary Incontinence
If you are experiencing persistent leaks and incontinence, it is time to visit your doctor. They can run a few diagnostics tests to determine the cause of your problem and create a customized treatment plan. The first step is to run a simple urinalysis to identify any signs of infection or other abnormal levels of blood and other substances in the urine.
You may also be asked to keep a bladder diary in order to track exactly how much fluid you are ingesting, how many times you urinate and how much urine your produce. This will give the doctor a better idea of how your body is functioning.
If these tests fail to identify any problems, you might need to have a post-void residual measurement taken. This test is designed to identify if there are any obstructions in your system that are preventing you from fully voiding your bladder each time you urinate. Your urine output will be measured and then the doctor will check to see if there is any urine left in the bladder. If there is a significant amount of urine still in the bladder, there could be a blockage that needs to be addressed.
Treating Urinary Incontinence
Treatment will vary based on the cause of your incontinence and the severity or your symptoms. Typically, doctors will begin by recommending lifestyle and behavioral changes before they move on to more invasive medical interventions.
Here are some common behavioral techniques that can be useful in treating incontinence:
Train your bladder. Instead of giving in to the urge every time you feel the need to urinate, try waiting 10 minutes. This will help you strengthen your bladder muscles and increase the time between urination.
Schedule bathroom breaks. Instead of waiting until your bladder is full and more likely to leak, regularly visit the bathroom every two to four hours.
Double voiding. Take your time in the bathroom. Once you urinate, wait a few minutes and try voiding your bladder again to make sure that any residual urine is completely evacuated.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are another simple and non-invasive treatment that can help strengthen the muscles associated with urination. These exercises are commonly known as Kegel exercises and are most effective when treating the symptoms of stress incontinence although they may also lessen the urge to void your bladder.
Practicing Kegels is simple. Contract the muscles that you use to stop urination and hold the contraction for 5 seconds. Do as many reps as possible as you work your way up to doing at least three sets of ten per day. Over time, these repetitions will improve your muscle strength and help prevent urine leaks.
Electrodes can be used to trigger contractions in the pelvic floor muscles and help build strength. This gentle form of stimulation can be administered over a period of months to treat incontinence.
For women who have persistent issues with incontinence, medication may be a part of their treatment plan. Anticholinergics work to calm an overactive bladder while Mirabegron is used to increase the amount of urine your bladder can hold and help you void your bladder more completely each time you urinate. Topical forms of estrogen can also be applied to rejuvenate the tissues around the vaginal area.
Medical Devices and Therapies
A urethral insert can be inserted directly into the urethra prior to activity to block leakage. The insert must be removed before urination. Patients with incontinence problems caused by prolapse can use a pessary, which consists of a small ring that works to support the bladder and prevent leakage. An electrical nerve stimulator can also be inserted under the skin in order to trigger the sacral nerves that control the urge to urinate.
Bulking material injections involve injecting a synthetic material into the urethra and surrounding tissue to help close the urethra. These shots will have to be administered on a regular basis for best results. Botox has only proven effective for patients with overactive bladder by stimulating tissue growth.
Most recently, patients and doctors have been taking advantage of a new medical advancement, known as the O-Shot, as an incontinence treatment. This all-natural shot uses the patient’s own platelet-rich plasma taken from the patient’s blood and is injected into the clitoris and the vaginal walls. In this way, the body’s own cells are able to stimulate growth and help tissue repair itself.
The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes and numbing agents are used to eliminate any pain. Not only has this treatment proven effective in treating incontinence and helping patients get off medication, but it also effectively enhances sensation and improves sexual satisfaction. Women who have been suffering from incontinence, vaginal dryness, and low libido can find relief with the help of the O-Shot.
Surgical Treatments for Incontinence
In severe and persistent cases of incontinence, surgery may be the best treatment. While these procedures are invasive, they may offer the best results.
- A sling procedure involves creating a sling around your urethra and bladder to help keep the urethra closed. It is most effective in treating stress incontinence.
- A bladder neck suspension procedure requires making an incision in the abdominal and using sutures to provide support where the bladder and urethra meet.
- Prolapse surgery may involve pushing the bladder up and using connective tissue to secure it into place. This technique is often used in combination with a sling procedure to maximize results.
For those who don’t want to undergo surgery or are still experiencing leaks after trying a variety of treatments, absorbent pads can help manage leaks and avoid embarrassing situations. These products fit just like underwear so you don’t have to worry about wearing a bulky pad. They can give you the confidence to enjoy your favorite activities without worrying about urine leaks.
Protect Your Skin
As you go through the diagnosis and treatment process, you will also want to pay special attention to your skin in order to avoid painful irritation. It doesn’t take long for urine to cause skin problems, so make sure to gently clean your skin and allow it to air dry. You may also want to consider applying a heavy cream such as cocoa butter or petroleum jelly to help create a barrier of protection. Taking proactive steps to clean and protect your skin will help make urine leaks more manageable and tolerable as you work towards a more permanent solution.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
If you are experiencing incontinence, there are treatments and solutions that can help you improve your quality of life. You don’t have to deal with the inconvenience and embarrassment of bladder leaks. The experts at Restorative Health can help you design a customized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. First-time patients can speak with a specialist for free and we will try to work with your insurance company. We even offer various financing and payment plans to help ensure that you can get access to the treatment you need. Take the first step by calling (314) 300-9199 today and start enjoying better health.