Urinary incontinence affects millions of Americans. It’s so common that it’s hard to escape the multitude of commercials touting the best or most discreet underwear available. But if you’re among the many women who suffer from incontinence the last thing you want to do is be reminded of it when you’re trying to watch your favorite movie.
You just want to be done with the symptoms and have things go back to normal – when you didn’t have to worry about urine leakage. A big part of getting to the appropriate treatment is finding out which type of incontinence you have.
Our expert OB/GYN, Dr. Brandon M. Lingenfelter, explains the different kinds of incontinence so you can better understand your symptoms.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence happens when urine leaks accidentally from your bladder. When your body is operating optimally, your bladder fills, and when it’s time to empty it you get a message from your brain that it’s time to go to the bathroom.
A muscle called the urethral sphincter acts like the gate to the urethra. When it’s time to urinate it relaxes, opening the urethra. The bladder muscles take control from there, contracting so that urine is forced out of the urethra, thereby emptying the bladder. Then the urethral sphincter closes the gate. With incontinence, this process is flawed by a physical anomaly like weakened muscles, a medical condition, or lifestyle habits.
While every type of incontinence results in urine leakage, the types are a bit different from each other. Here’s the rundown on the types of urinary incontinence and what we can do to treat them.
Stress incontinence happens most often with women and may begin right around the same time as menopause. Like its name suggests, this type of incontinence is caused by stress or pressure on the bladder, which in turn causes urine to leak from the bladder. Pressure may come in the form of lifting something heavy or sneezing, coughing, laughing, or exercising.
For stress incontinence, we offer treatment options that provide additional support to the urethra, such as tension-free vaginal tape (TVT). TVT is mesh tape that’s surgically placed through tiny incisions in the vaginal walls and abdomen. It holds the urethra in a normal position to support it during things that cause pressure.
Urge incontinence, sometimes called overactive bladder, is that emergency trip to the bathroom when you can’t hold it in any longer, and sometimes you don’t make it in time. Aside from being nerve-wracking and making it difficult to stray far from a bathroom, oftentimes once you get there you don’t urinate that much at all.
We may treat urge incontinence by using InterStim therapy, also called peripheral nerve stimulation, to reconnect the communication between your brain and the sacral nerves. With InterStim therapy, small wires are implanted that transmit mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves located near the tailbone. The pulses enhance bladder control by activating the muscles of the pelvic floor.
We also offer BotoxⓇ injections to help with urge incontinence. Botox works by relaxing the bladder muscles so they don’t spasm as much.
It’s also possible to have a blend of types of incontinence, which is known as mixed incontinence. Women often have a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
Nearly half of all Americans age 65 and above suffer from overflow incontinence. With this type of incontinence the bladder is in a constant state of fullness. Small amounts of urine drip out because the bladder never seems to empty completely.
When you have overflow incontinence, you may get up frequently during the night to go to the bathroom, but once you get there you may have a difficult time urinating or urinate with an unsteady or weak stream.
We can help you with incontinence
Regardless of how your incontinence condition plays out, the important thing is that it’s not something you have to live with. Effective treatments are available that can get you back to doing all those things you love without having to be aware of the closest bathroom.
If you experience urinary incontinence or have started to notice changes in how often you urinate, make your appointment with the online booking tool here on the website, or call our office in Princeton, West Virginia.