Funny words, not so funny situation
Life happens; pregnancy, child birth, gaining weight, aging…etc. As women, when our bodies change, so do our bladders, which commonly leads to the occasional peez, linkle or leakercise.
If you struggle with bladder issues, you’re not alone. Many women deal with urinary incontinence every day, and the majority of us just don’t talk about it. Lee's Summit Medical Center’s board-certified urogynecologist, Dr. Megan Sneed has treated women with urinary incontinence for over 15 years, and she is here to help!
Getting Candid with Dr. Sneed about Women’s Health
Frequently Asked Questions
A: Urinary incontinence (UI) is a fancy name for the accidental release of urine, and it happens to one in four women. Things like pregnancy and childbirth, gaining weight, and aging changes can weaken the tissues in our bladders, leading to the occasional accident. But the good news is that we don’t have to just put up with it – there are treatments for all types of UI.
A: The two most common types of UI are urgency incontinence and stress incontinence. Urgency incontinence is that “gotta go, gotta go” sensation, where you feel like you need to get to the bathroom really bad and might not always make it. Stress incontinence is the leaking of urine with coughing, sneezing, running, jumping, or laughing.
A: Stress incontinence occurs when there is unexpected leakage of urine caused by pressure or sudden muscle contractions on the bladder. This often occurs during exercise, heavy lifting, coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Stress incontinence is the most common bladder control problem in young and middle-aged women. The condition may be due to an inherent weakness of the pelvic floor muscles or an effect from the changes that occur in pelvic support after childbirth. In menopausal women, stress incontinence can begin to occur because a drop in estrogen can cause weakening of the pelvic floor.
A: Urgency incontinence can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:
- Overactive bladder muscles
- Weakened pelvic floor muscles/support
- Nerve damage that affects bladder control
- Interstitial cystitis (chronic bladder inflammation) or other bladder conditions
- A disability or limitation that makes it difficult to get to the toilet quickly
- Side effects from a prior surgery
- Inability to empty the bladder completely and it overflows as new urine is produced
A: The best treatment depends on what type of UI are you are experiencing. Urgency incontinence can be treated with bladder retraining, some pelvic floor therapy, biofeedback, or medications. For stress incontinence, pelvic floor therapy and kegel exercises will have an impact, but most women with stress incontinence will find that their biggest improvement comes from a simple, 15-minute outpatient procedure, which has a very low risk rate and a very high success rate.
A: Find the muscles you use to stop urinating. Squeeze these muscles for 3 seconds. Then relax for 3 seconds. Your stomach and thigh muscles should not tighten when you do this. Add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds each time. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times per session. Try to do this at least 3 times a day. It may take 3 or 4 months to notice improvement. Don’t do Kegels while you urinate – this can hurt your bladder.
A: If occasional accidents are affecting your quality of life, it is time to talk to a doctor. You can start by consulting with your primary care physician, or by making an appointment at the Women’s Center at Lee's Summit Medical Center.