November is National Bladder Health Awareness Month, an ideal time to focus on a frequently experienced but often under-discussed issue: stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is the most common type of urinary incontinence, affecting as many as one in three people who were assigned female gender at birth. Men may also experience stress incontinence, but it’s far less common.
Here at Buschemeyer Urology, we see patients with all types of urinary incontinence. We want to help save you the frustration and embarrassment associated with stress urinary incontinence.
Here are four ways that our team suggests you use to manage and maybe even resolve your stress incontinence and improve your quality of life.
About stress urinary incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence describes the involuntary leakage of urine during physical activities that put pressure on your abdomen and subsequently on your bladder. These include activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping, or lifting heavy objects.
Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles and tissues that support the bladder and control the release of urine become weakened or damaged, leading to the accidental release of urine.
Women are particularly susceptible to developing stress incontinence because pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and uterine prolapse all increase its risk. Other risk factors include obesity, chronic coughing, diabetes, and prostate surgery (in men).
Stress urinary incontinence isn’t just a nuisance. It’s embarrassing and negatively affects your quality of life, making you self-conscious during routine activities like laughing or exercising.
Although you can wear incontinence products, they’re not always comfortable or accessible.
1. Pelvic floor exercises as a solution for stress incontinence
Pelvic floor exercises, often known as Kegel exercises, are a helpful way to manage and sometimes resolve stress incontinence. These exercises strengthen the muscles that support your bladder and help control urine flow. You can improve their tone and function by consistently working on your pelvic floor muscles.
We can help you learn how to perform these exercises and prescribe a schedule for their practice so you see results. It may take several weeks or even months to experience noticeable improvements.
2. Lifestyle Modifications for stress incontinence
Certain lifestyle modifications can significantly reduce the symptoms of stress incontinence. These include:
Carrying excess weight places additional stress on the pelvic floor muscles and bladder. Losing weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can alleviate symptoms. We can help.
Avoid bladder irritants like caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and artificial sweeteners, as they can trigger stress incontinence.
Control of your fluid intake
You might think drinking less helps stress incontinence. Actually, the reverse is true. Drinking adequate water is crucial. Dehydration can lead to concentrated urine, irritating the bladder and worsening symptoms.
Smoking can weaken the muscles involved in bladder control. Quitting smoking can improve your overall bladder health.
3. Medical interventions for stress incontinence
In more severe cases or when conservative methods don't help you find relief from stress incontinence, our team may recommend certain treatments like:
Dr. Buschemeyer may prescribe medications to help strengthen the bladder and urethra muscles or reduce irritation in the bladder lining.
A pessary is a medical device placed into the vagina to support the bladder and reduce leakage.
In some cases, Dr. Bushemeyer may recommend surgical options like a midurethral sling procedure to provide additional support to the urethra.
4. Behavioral Techniques
You may adopt behavioral techniques to complement other treatment approaches and help you manage stress incontinence effectively. For example, you may undergo bladder training, which involves scheduled trips to the bathroom. Over time, you gradually increase the time between bathroom visits and learn to control urgency.
You can also learn to regulate your fluid intake, especially in the evening, to reduce the frequency of nighttime urination.
If stress incontinence interferes with your daily routine and enjoyment of life, contact Buschemeyer Urology today. National Bladder Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to take charge of your bladder health and address any issues like stress incontinence. Call today or use the online tool to schedule your appointment.