What Is Female Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. Many people associate incontinence with aging, but this is not necessarily the case. It is a common condition experienced by men and women of all ages. Most urologists classify incontinence by its symptoms or the circumstances in which it occurs. The most common type of incontinence is stress incontinence, in which urine leaks out during activities, such as walking, aerobics or even sneezing and coughing. Another common form of leakage is urge incontinence, also referred to as overactive bladder, in which a person has an uncontrollable urge to urinate but cannot reach the restroom in time.
As with any medical problem, patient history and a physical exam are critical. Your urologist will ask questions about your habits and fluid intake as well as your family, medical and surgical history. Usually a urinalysis and cough stress test will be conducted during your first evaluation. A thorough pelvic examination will also be conducted to look for correctable reasons for leakage, such as impacted stool, constipation and hernias. If any findings suggest further evaluation, additional tests may be recommended.
Some of the causes of incontinence are temporary and easily reversible, such as urinary tract infection, vaginal infection or irritation, medication, constipation and restricted mobility. However, in some cases, further medical intervention is necessary. Minimally invasive treatments (those that do not involve surgery) include the following options: fluid management, bladder training, bladder retraining, pelvic floor exercises and medication. If minimally invasive treatment fails, surgical treatment may be necessary.