Female urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine.
Urinary incontinence – the involuntary loss of urine – is a common urologic condition. Female incontinence affects millions of women each day, including teenagers, young women, new mothers, menopausal women, and the elderly. Most urologists classify incontinence by its symptoms or the circumstances in which it occurs.
While there are several types of female incontinence, the most common is stress incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when a ‘stressor’ or ‘trigger’ causes urine to leak. This might include, laughing, coughing, sneezing, jogging, jumping, or lifting. Another common form of leakage is urge incontinence, characterized by an uncontrollable urge to urinate. Oftentimes, the urge is so strong that the individual will not be able to reach the restroom in time.
Diagnosis of female incontinence
When visiting a urologist, the provider will review the patient’s medical history, conduct a physical exam, and review the patient’s current symptoms. It is also important to perform a urinalysis to screen for infection. During the assessment, the urologist will ask questions about the patient’s lifestyle, fluid intake, and if they have children. All of these factors can influence female incontinence.
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. A bladder diary is an important tool that is used to evaluate female incontinence. The urologist will explain how a bladder diary is to be completed, and how the information will help them make an accurate diagnosis. By obtaining patient and clinical information, the urologist will be able to diagnose if the patient has urinary incontinence, and which type of incontinence they are experiencing.
Treatment of female incontinence
The appropriate treatment for incontinence will depend on the type of incontinence that has been diagnosed. Some of the causes of incontinence are temporary and easily reversible, such as a urinary tract infection, vaginal infection or irritation, medication, constipation and restricted mobility. However, in some cases, further medical intervention is necessary. There are several conservative and minimally invasive options available to women including:
- Fluid management
- Bladder training
- Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises)
When minimally invasive treatment options fail, surgical treatment may be necessary.
If you are experiencing urinary leakage and would like to be evaluated, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment.