Urinary incontinence refers to involuntary urination or urinary leakage. For women, urinary incontinence is up to twice as common as for men, with up to three of the four urinary incontinence victims believed to be women. Occasionally, urinary incontinence affects about half of all women, so it’s very common, as well as embarrassing, for many. For example, it can have a significant impact on a woman’s sex life.

Regular urinary incontinence increases with age, especially after menopause: about 60% of those over the age of 70 suffer from it. However, urinary incontinence also occurs in young women, especially after pregnancy and childbirth. The discomfort can cause social shame for many. Untreated, however, urinary incontinence will slowly weaken the quality of life, and the discomfort may even get worse. Although it can be embarrassing to seek help, there are numerous ways to improve the situation.

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Symptoms and detection of condition

Occasional urinary incontinence is normal and requires no action. Occasionally, urinary incontinence may be caused by mild urinary tract infection. This can be easily discovered with a urine sample, and you should seek the correct medication from your doctor. The symptoms of urinary tract infection are usually increased need for urination and burning sensation when urinating.

If the discomfort is constant, it is advisable to observe the amount and frequency of urinary incontinence and the situations in which urinary incontinence occurs. The three main types of urinary incontinence are urge incontinence, stress incontinence and overflow incontinence. In addition, some people have mixed symptoms of different types. The doctor can easily determine the type of incontinence.

Urge incontinence occurs in the case of overactive bladder. The overactive bladder feels full when contracted, and the sufferer has the need for continuous urination. Urine escapes after the urge for intense urination and it cannot be controlled. This type may be associated with urinary tract infections or urinary tract surgery. There may be a variety of problems in the background, such as tumour or diabetes.

In stress incontinence, urine escapes without feeling the need to urinate, for example, during sports or when coughing. This happens when the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues give way and the pressure in the abdominal cavity causes the urine to escape from the urethra. This type of incontinence is due to the weakness of the support structures or the tube closure mechanism around the urethra.

Incontinence and pregnancy

Pregnancy and postnatal time are steps in a woman’s life, where urinary incontinence may occur. During pregnancy, urinary bladder can be subjected to high pressure, which may result in urine escaping. The stress incontinence is particularly common after the onset of birth, as the birth loosens the pelvic floor muscles.

Usually, the stabilisation of hormonal activity after stopping breastfeeding and the strengthening of pelvic floor muscles with exercises help the incontinence problem. However, pregnancy and postnatal incontinence may often remain a permanent problem. For a long time, it seems to remain with those who have symptoms during the first pregnancy and after childbirth.

Pelvic floor muscle workouts should be done already during pregnancy, and especially after delivery. Exercise for pelvic floor muscles is done by severely narrowing the muscles inside the pelvis in the same way as strongly retaining urine. In a properly made contraction, the vagina, urethra and rectum pull upwards.

Incontinence and menopause

In women, especially the reduction of estrogen due to menopause aggravates urinary incontinence. Decreasing estrogen causes changes in the urethra and mucous membranes, exposing them to various inflammations, which in turn can cause incontinence.

Various HRT products can help with the estrogen loss during menopause. Typically, the available estrogen products are available from a pharmacy without a prescription. Estrogen improves the mucous membranes of the vagina and urinary tract and prevents urinary incontinence. Hormone patches and hormone tablets are available as prescribed by your doctor.

Also, the general deterioration of muscularity as a result of ageing and various diseases can cause incontinence. A common disorder in elderly women is a uterine deposition or vaginal deposition. It means the loosening of the internal tissues, and can also contribute to urinary incontinence.

You can read more about menopause here.

How can I prevent incontinence?

Significant factors in the onset of urinary incontinence are overweight and poor muscle condition. In addition to special pelvic floor exercises, various types of exercise that actively engage pelvic floor muscles are good ways to combat incontinence. Instead, it is advisable to avoid sports such as running and those involving symptoms, if you already have urinary incontinence.

In addition to physical activity, weight monitoring and not smoking prevent the development of incontinence. According to an American study, a 15-kg weight loss in obese women significantly reduced urinary incontinence.

Fortunately, there are various protection options available such as pads, diapers and bed covers to facilitate urinary incontinence.

Medical examination and medication for female urinary incontinence

It is advisable to seek medical advice if urinary incontinence is a major drawback to everyday life, for example to social life. The Gynecologist examines the condition of the pelvic floor muscles and examines the urine sample. In addition, a structured form explains which type of incontinence is at hand.

More severe stress incontinence can be treated with a small, local anaesthetic surgery. During surgery, an area of the bladder is raised and the urinary incontinence decreases. If surgery is an impossible alternative, one treatment is injection therapy. Especially in cases of severe incontinence, botulinum toxin injected into the bladder wall has produced results.

Those suffering from urge incontinence and overactive bladder can treat the problem with certain exercises. The exercises can be made more effective with medication that seem to involuntary relax bladder muscles.