Millions of men and women experience urinary incontinence, but the problem is far more prevalent in women — by two to one. There are several reasons why twice as many women develop problems with bladder control and they all have to do with circumstances that are unique to women.
To explain the differences that can lead to more urinary incontinence in women, Dr. Gary Willen and the team here at Tahoe Women’s Care present three, female-specific conditions that can contribute to involuntary leakage.
During the early days of your pregnancy, you shouldn’t experience any problems with urinary incontinence, but as your fetus grows, so do your risks for stress incontinence. This form of incontinence occurs because of added pressure on your bladder — and pregnancy certainly adds some pressure.
Pregnancy-related incontinence in which a simple sneeze or cough can cause urine to leak out is perfectly normal.
While pregnancy can cause problems with stress incontinence, childbirth can lead to issues with stress incontinence or urge incontinence (or a combination of both).
The pregnancy may have weakened your pelvic floor, which supports your bladder. Until your pelvic floor regains strength, you may experience some stress incontinence after childbirth.
As well, your pregnancy may have damaged some of the nerves that control your bladder, which can leave you with urge incontinence. The hallmark of this type of incontinence are frequent and sudden urges to urinate.
In either case, the problem typically resolves itself as your body slowly returns to normal after childbirth, although some women are left with ongoing incontinence issues.
This cause of urinary incontinence in women is the most prevalent because the combination of age and a loss of hormones is an inevitable one. When you pass through menopause in your late 40s or early 50s, your estrogen production drops off considerably.
Since your estrogen hormones play a role in strengthening the tissues that support your reproductive organs, their absence can lead to pelvic organ prolapse. The most common type is bladder prolapse, a condition in which your bladder shifts downward.
Treating urinary incontinence
While women may be more prone to urinary incontinence, the good news is that there are a wide range of treatment options. After evaluating your urinary incontinence, we come up with the best treatment plan for your needs, which might include:
- Pelvic floor strengthening exercises
- Electrical stimulation to strengthen your pelvic floor and heal nerve damage
- Hormone replacement therapies
- A pessary (a bladder-support device)
- Injecting bulking agents into your urethra
- Bladder training
In severe cases of urinary incontinence, we may recommend a surgical procedure to create a sling for your bladder.
If you’re struggling with urinary incontinence and you want to explore your treatment options, please contact our office in Carson City, Nevada, to set up an appointment.