Urinary Incontinence in Women - Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Millions of Americans have urinary incontinence. It is a condition that affects both men and women, young and old alike. But what is urinary incontinence, and what can you do if you have it? This article will answer these questions and more.

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence refers to the unintentional, uncontrolled release of urine. Commonly, this leakage occurs during a cough, laugh or sneeze, or when you have the urge to urinate but cannot reach a bathroom in time. It's important to realize that incontinence is not a disease but a symptom. Incontinence is a byproduct of some other problem within the lower urinary tract.

Urinary incontinence does not normally lead to major health problems, but it can obviously be unpleasant and embarrassing. With that being said, urinary incontinence is actually quite common (especially with older adults) and is relatively easy to treat.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Urge incontinence and stress incontinence are the two most common types of incontinence within females. Understanding the difference between these two is the key to understanding their causes.

Type #1 - Stress Incontinence

Significant weight gain and childbirth can stretch the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles control the bladder, and when they're stretched they cannot do their job of closing off the urethra. This condition can be worsened by smoking, being overweight, or during menopause.

Type #2 - Urge Incontinence

When you hear the phrase "overactive bladder," it's normally describing the condition of urge incontinence. Urge incontinence is sort of the reverse of stress incontinence. Only instead of being caused by a lack of muscle contraction, it's caused by the muscles contracting involuntarily.

Urge incontinence can be caused by a number of factors, including kidney stones, bladder stones, tumors that press on the bladder, stroke, Parkinson's disease, or simply age-related changes in the bladder muscle.

Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

There are several treatments for urinary incontinence. Talk to your doctor to determine the treatment that's right for you, as it will depend on the cause of your incontinence and other factors. Treatments may include medication, lifestyle changes, special exercises or minimally invasive surgery.

Preventing Urinary Incontinence

There are several things you can do to reduce your chances of developing urinary incontinence. Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, thereby reducing the chances of stress incontinence. Maintaining a healthy wait and being a non-smoker also go a long way toward preventing incontinence.

Learn More

B.R. Cornett writes on behalf of the Urology Team of Austin, Texas. To learn more about urinary incontinence in females [http://www.urologyteam.com/female-urology/incontinence.htm], or to get help for it, visit the Urology Team website at www.urologyteam.com

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