Female urinary incontinence affects more than 70% of women during their lives and most women are reluctant to mention it to their physician; it costs the healthcare system $20 billion annually, not to mention the a woman’s personal inconvenience and embarrassment.
Stress Incontinence occurs when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise. It is worsened by weight gain, loss of pelvic floor muscle strength or support of the bladder. Giving birth can also cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken. These conditions result in the bladder dropping downward into the vagina and difficulty in the pelvic muscles ability to close the urethra.
Urge Incontinence occurs when the bladder muscle overwhelms the pelvic floor muscles and the urine can no longer be held back. It occurs spontaneously and without warning, often with only a small amount of urine in the bladder. Most women with this type of urinary incontinence know where bathrooms are in the stores they shop at and tend to void preemptively to avoid voiding during trips or movies. It may be caused by irritation of the bladder, emotional anxiety or stress, stroke or Parkinson’s disease. Women usually voiding more than 2-3 times per night with this disorder.
Treatments for urinary incontinence are different depending on the type each person has and how it affects your life. Diagnosis starts with a voiding history and urine culture; it is helpful to keep a voiding diary for 3-4 days to assist in making the most accurate diagnosis.
You can start by limiting caffeine drinks and tobacco, drink 64 ounces of water per day and eat plenty of fiber to reduce constipation (straining). Weight loss, even 10-15 pounds, has been shown to reduce the impact of urinary incontinence in women. Also, limit alcohol to one drink per day.