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Incontinence of Urine in Women

As a woman approaches menopause, her hormone production begins to decrease, leading to physical changes (including urinary incontinence).


What is incontinence of urine or urinary incontinency?

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control one´s bladder function. The severity can vary from woman to woman.

Some women may experience occasional trickles of urine when laughing or even sneezing. Others might notice more frequent and uncontrolled urine flows that don´t seem to be stimulated by any outside cause.

Although many women experience incontinence as they approach menopause, it is not an inevitable aspect of getting older. Understanding this menopausal symptom can help to prevent or treat it.


What are the types of Urinary Incontinence?

There are three main types of urinary incontinence:

Stress incontinence - This is a common type of incontinence experienced by women as they age and approach menopause. Women with stress incontinence involuntarily leak urine while coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising, or lifting something.

With age, the pelvic muscles begin to weaken and the sudden pressure from sneezing, laughing, etc on the bladder wall results in urine leaking out.

Urge incontinence – Characterized by sudden, intense, and frequent urge to urinate, immediately followed by an uncontrollable loss of urine. The bladder contracts and may give a warning of only a few seconds or a minute to make it to the restroom. Urge incontinence strikes especially while sleeping, drinking, or while listening to running water.

Urge incontinence is also called as spastic bladder, overactive bladder, or reflex incontinence. This type of incontinence, where the need to urinate is more than seven times a day or more than twice each night, is common in elderly people.

Overflow incontinence - This is seen as frequent or constant dribbling urine. Those with overflow incontinence are unable to completely empty the bladder, which fills up and then overflows, causing leakage.

This type of incontinence is common with people who have damaged bladders or blocked urethras. It can also be a result of diabetic nerve damage


What causes Urinary Incontinence?

Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence for women embarking on menopause and women who are post-menopausal. It is almost always caused by hormonal imbalance, specifically decreased levels of estrogen.

Estrogen helps to keep a woman´s muscles strong, including the muscles that controlling bladder besides ensuring health of the urinary tract lining. When estrogen levels decrease, as in menopausal stage, the muscles weaken and there is lack of bladder control.

Other causes of Incontinence

  • Infections

  • Previous Pregnancies

  • Nerve damage from diabetes or stroke

  • Heart problems

  • Medications such as diuretics (“water pills”), tranquilizers

  • Depression

  • Difficulty walking or moving

  • Weight gain

  • Childbirth

  • Ageing

 

What are the treatments for Urinary Incontinence?

There are several types of treatments available for treating urinary incontinency in women.

There are several exercises which help to strengthen pelvic muscles and get better control over bladder. Consult an experienced doctor or physician for the exact exercise sets.

Certain lifestyle changes are also known to help when combined with alternative medicines correctly. As the exercises helps strengthen pelvic muscles herbal remedies are helpful in production of estrogen and other deficient hormones in the body.

In case urinary incontinence is seen from a longer period of time, it is highly advised to consult a healthcare professional and seek medical help. Experts strongly recommend women to begin with lifestyle changes and then shift to alternative medicinal treatments. In case these fail to address the problem only then should you seek surgical treatment options.


What are Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises help strengthen the muscles that control the bladder. They are easy to perform anywhere. Although designed for women, the Kegel exercises can also help men.

Kegel exercises

  • To locate the right muscles, try stopping or slowing your urine flow without using your stomach, leg or buttock muscles. When you're able to slow or stop the stream of urine, you've located the right muscles.

  • Squeeze your muscles. Hold for a count of 10. Relax for a count of 10.

  • Repeat this 10 to 20 times, 3 times a day.


What is bladder training?

Some people who have urge incontinence can learn to lengthen the time between urges to go to the bathroom. You start by urinating at set intervals, such as every 30 minutes to 2 hours (despite the need to go or not). Then gradually lengthen the time between when you urinate (for example, by 30 minutes) until you're urinating every 3 to 4 hours. 

You can practice relaxation techniques when you feel the urge to urinate before it is time to go to the bathroom. Breathe slowly and deeply. Think about your breathing until the urge goes away. You can also do Kegel exercises if they help control your urge. 


How will medicine or surgery help?

Medicine helps treat certain types of urinary incontinence. Estrogen cream applied in the vagina helps women who have mild stress incontinence. Several prescription medicines are also available to treat urge incontinence.

Surgery can sometimes be helpful, especially in stress incontinence in women. It is usually only performed if other treatments are unsuccessful or if the incontinence is severe.


How to prevent Urinary Incontinence?

Strengthening pelvic muscles with Kegel exercises may lower your risk for incontinence.

If you smoke, think about quitting. Quitting may make you cough less, which may help with incontinence.

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