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Women Need Courage To Talk To Provider About Urinary Incontinence

DAYTON, Ohio (Oct. 9, 2017) – There are things in a woman’s life that may seem uncontrollable at times, but her bladder should not be one of them.

Urinary incontinence affects millions of women in the United States, often robbing them of mobility, dignity and quality of life. Modern medicine has created hope for those struggling with an irregular urge or release of urine, however, women need the courage to talk their provider in order to find out what can be done, said Elyse Weber, PA, with Lifestages Centers for Women.

“Most incontinence is not life-threatening, but it is bothersome, embarrassing and can keep you from doing the things you love,” Ms. Weber said. “We have women who finally make the decision to talk about it when they find they no longer want to go for walks or avoid going out to dinner with family because they are embarrassed to get up multiple times to go the restroom.”

To define urinary incontinence as the involuntary leaking of urine is simple, but determining what type of urinary incontinence a woman is experiencing can be more complex. Understanding what type she is suffering from, however, can lead to a more successful plan of care.

“There are multiple types of urinary incontinence and we try to get our patients to realize that they can have symptoms that are suggestive of all different types,” said Ms. Weber, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “We try to separate them for our patients to help them better understand.”

  • Stress incontinence – This is when urine leaks as a result of activities such as laughing, sneezing, coughing or lifting items. This type is due to the weakening of the urethra, or the tube out of which a woman urinates. The muscles under the urethra can lose tone over time causing incontinence.
  • Weber HSUrge incontinence – The detrusor muscle is a big muscle around the bladder that can spasm much like a charley horse in the leg. The muscle can spasm and cause a woman to suddenly feel as if she has to urinate. Women suffering from this have to run to the restroom, and often leak urine before they arrive. Bladder inflammation – often due to a diet that includes artificial sweeteners, caffeine and spicy foods – can cause this type.
  • Overflow incontinence – Women unable to completely empty their bladder each time they urinate can end up with a bladder that is “filled to the brim,” which can easily overflow when she bears down on the muscles. Patients with chronic nerve damage from diseases such as diabetes or from a back injury are often unable to sense a full bladder and the urge to urinate. 
  • Functional incontinence – Some women experience leakage simply because they are unable to make it to the restroom in time. Women with chronic back pain, and hip and knee issues may be less mobile and unable to make it to the restroom.

Ms. Weber works alongside William Rush, MD, to evaluate patients through a clinical exam and also patient history. Understanding the details of how and when they experience leakage can usually answer what type of incontinence a woman is experiencing.

Treatment for incontinence varies according to the type, but can include options such as physical therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. 

"Female incontinence is not curable, but it is manageable,” Ms. Weber said. “The important thing is for women to talk to their health care provider so they can begin treatment that will hopefully lead to a healthier and happier life.”

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