urinary incontinence
in women baby boomers

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the involuntary loss of urine affecting many women baby boomers, with symptoms ranging from light to severe. The two most common types are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.

Stress incontinence is the more common type of urine incontinence. It is caused by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercise or other physical exertion. It is the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, most commonly caused by pregnancy and childbirth and worsens with age. Obesity can further aggravate the problem.

Urge incontinence also called Overactive Bladder Syndrome (OBS) is the sudden urge to urinate, very quickly followed by urine loss. The cause is not quite clear; the nerve signals seem to be sending the brain wrong signals, causing the bladder muscles to become overactive, contracting without control. Symptoms can get worse during stress. Drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol can aggravate the problem.

Treatments for Stress Incontinence

There are a number of different treatments, depending on the severity of the condition and your health.

  • Pelvic Floor Exercises, also called Kegel Exercises, are exercises that contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles. Experts recommend doing kegels for 5 minutes, twice a day. They can be done with the aid of a tool such as a vaginal cone. But like any exercise, it takes time for it to become effective. Stick to a routine and increase the time you exercise for best results. Five minutes upon waking up and five minutes before going to sleep is a good starting routine.
      A vaginal cone can be used as an aid for pelvic floor exercises. You insert this small cone into your vagina, and contract the muscles to prevent the cone from slipping out. The cones come in different weights and you can increase the weight as muscles get stronger.
  • Biofeedback tells you when you are contracting pelvic muscles. Sensors are placed on your abdomen and in the vagina to monitor contractions of muscles. The therapist helps you identify the correct muscles to contract.
  • A Pessary is a small device made of rubber, silicone or plastic,that comes in different sizes and is inserted into the vagina to help support the bladder. If urinary incontinence is due to a prolapsed bladder or uterus. it can be beneficial.
  • Urethral insert is a device resembling a tampon that is inserted into the urethra and acts as a plug. It is meant to be used for a specific activity and removed before urinating.
  • Surgery offers a number of different options. Each has its risks, dangers, and success rate. The options should be discussed with a surgeon experienced in treating incontinence. If you are considering surgery, you need to read this article about transvaginal mesh procedures.

Treating Urge Incontinence

  • Bladder training can help you to go to the bathroom less often. Training usually includes scheduling urination at specific intervals, controlling amount and types of liquids taken, and by keeping a diary.
  • Electrical stimulation involves placing small electrodes in areas that affect your bladder and sending electrical pulses to the nerve which cause the pelvic floor muscles to contract. The treatment is not painful and can be done as an office based procedure over a couple of months or surgically implanting a device.
  • Medications are used when urge continence symptoms are severe.

If you think you have urinary incontinence, discuss it with your doctor in order to determine what type of incontinence you have or whether there might be another cause such as an infection.

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