Incontinence: Fixing the Leak
At best, it's annoying. At worst, it can be downright embarrassing. If you suffer from occasional or frequent bladder control problems, rest assured you're not alone. Millions of women experience incontinence. Among younger women, it may occur after having a baby. Others develop problems around the onset of menopause or later. "By the age of 65, almost half of all women experience or have experienced incontinence," explains Uniontown Urologists Dr. Shirish Desai and Dr. Subodh Patel.
What Causes It?
In the bladder, a wall of muscles helps hold urine in and then contracts when the urine is released. Just outside the urethra are sphincter muscles that relax to let the urine pass by. Loose or damaged muscles in these areas can cause loss of control. Hormonal changes, childbirth or surgery are frequently the culprits.
Can It Be Fixed?
80% of incontinence cases can be cured or noticeably improved. First, your doctor will want to determine what's causing the problem. He or she may use X-rays, cystoscopic examinations, blood tests, urinalysis and other specialized tests to determine the severity of your problem and exactly why it's occurring.
"Sometimes simple dietary changes or medication is all it takes to cure incontinence," explains Dr. Desai. Other treatments may include changing prescription drugs, behavioral modification and pelvic muscle exercises.
Is Surgery Necessary?
Surgery is usually performed only after other options have been proven unsuccessful. Procedures include bladder neck suspension, collagen injections around the urethra or implantation of an artificial urinary sphincter. "There are very effective, simple surgical procedures that can be done on an outpatient basis or in conjunction with other scheduled surgery, such as hysterectomy," comments Dr. Patel.
What if My Incontinence Can't Be Cured?
The good news is that incontinence is such a widespread condition, there are many products and devices available to help you go on enjoying an active life. A Urologist or your Gynecologist is the perfect place to start if you'd like more information.Return to LEARN MORE