Urinary incontinence affects almost half of all women and less than 11% of men. The leaking of urine and urgency associated with incontinence can be embarrassing, frustrating, and inconvenient, but treatment can help.
Experienced urologist W. Cooper Buschemeyer III, MD, at Buschemeyer Urology provides patients with comprehensive care for urinary incontinence, including physical therapy, medications, surgery, electrical or nerve stimulation, and injections.
The best treatments for you depend on your type of urinary incontinence. Here’s what Dr. Buschemeyer wants you to know.
Who is at risk of developing urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence affects women far more often than it affects men. Pregnancy, delivery, and hormonal changes can affect your urinary system to work as it should.
The pelvic floor muscles are subject to weakening as women and men age. Health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and chronic constipation, also contribute to your risk of developing incontinence.
Types of incontinence
There are four primary types of incontinence:
1. Stress incontinence
Stress incontinence happens when you put pressure on your bladder, like sneezing, coughing, laughing, or exercising. Weak pelvic floor muscles, including those that support your uterus, bladder, and bowel, contribute to stress incontinence.
2. Urge incontinence
Urge incontinence describes the sudden, intense urge to urinate. In these cases, you lose control over your bladder and may not make it to the bathroom in time. A urinary tract infection can sometimes cause urge incontinence. In severe cases, it results from a neurological disorder or diabetes.
3. Overflow incontinence
Overflow incontinence happens because your bladder just doesn’t empty completely when you use the restroom. Your bladder quickly fills up, and you experience dribbling between bathroom visits.
4. Mixed incontinence
Mixed incontinence describes a combination of two or more types of incontinence. In most cases, it affects women who have urge and stress incontinence.
Treatments for incontinence
You’ll get a customized treatment plan to help you treat your incontinence.
Behavioral strategies, like bladder training, which involves delaying urination after you have the urge to go, can help calm an overactive bladder and urgency incontinence. For people with overflow incontinence, getting in the habit of urinating twice in a short time can help empty the bladder more completely.
Scheduled toilet trips and attention to your diet also help with stress and urge incontinence.
Going every 2-4 hours, whether or not you feel the urge to go, keeps your bladder empty. Cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, and acidic foods reduces irritation in your bladder, which can cause you to leak urine.
Physical therapy that includes Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles helps people with stress incontinence. Electrical muscle stimulation passively causes your pelvic floor muscles to contract, leading to better bladder and muscle control.
Weight loss, if you’re overweight, and quitting smoking are other lifestyle strategies for stress incontinence.
Urge incontinence responds to medications that relax your bladder muscles. Nerve stimulation uses an acupuncture-like needle and mild electrical stimulation to reduce the signals in your bladder that you need to urinate. Botox® injections can help patients with severe symptoms of urge incontinence, especially in severe cases.
Medication or a pessary may be the next step in your treatment if you have stress urinary incontinence that doesn’t resolve with these more conservative measures. Pessaries are rigid silicone devices that you insert into the vagina to support muscles and fallen pelvic organs.
A midurethral sling uses a synthetic mesh material implanted to replace the damaged muscular support of your urethra. Dr. Buschemeyer may also recommend urethral bulking, a simple surgical procedure in which he injects synthetic material into the wall of the urethra near the bladder to control urine flow better.
Patients with severe symptoms of urge incontinence that are resistant to other treatments may benefit from sacral nerve modulation. This involves the surgical implantation of a device that helps control the urge to urinate and uncontrollable leakage.
Contact our team at Buschemeyer Urology at the Conroe, Willis, or The Woodlands, Texas, offices to get relief from urinary incontinence. Call or use this website to schedule an appointment.