Urinary Incontinence

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Urinary Incontinence

Women with incontinence often hesitate to talk about it, even with their physician. At The Association for Women’s Health Care, all of our physicians help women with incontinence, but we also have urogynecologists on staff who specialize in treating its underlying cause. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment, because we understand. We look forward to helping relieve your incontinence at one of our locations in The Loop in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois.

Urinary Incontinence Q&A

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence, or bladder incontinence, is a health condition in which you accidentally leak urine. The leakage may be mild or uncontrollable wetting. There are two common types of urinary incontinence:

  • Stress incontinence: This type of urinary incontinence occurs when pressure is placed on the bladder. It may happen when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or lift a heavy object.
  • Urge incontinence: Better known as overactive bladder, this type of incontinence occurs when you have a strong urge to go to the bathroom, even when there’s little urine in your bladder.

What causes urinary incontinence?

Aging is one of the biggest contributors to incontinence, because pelvic floor muscles weaken as you get older. If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, you’re also more likely to develop incontinence. Otherwise, a short list of the many causes includes:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Medications (high blood pressure, muscle relaxants, sedatives)

Many women find that certain foods and beverages aggravate urinary incontinence. The trigger is different for each person, but may include caffeine, carbonated drinks, spicy foods, alcohol, and foods high in sugar.

What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence may range from occasional leakage of stool to loss of bowel control. Please don’t hesitate to consult your doctor at The Association for Women’s Health Care if you suffer from fecal incontinence because our urogynecologists are specialists in helping with incontinence problems.

What causes fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is more common in women as they grow older, but it also has other causes, such as:

  • Vaginal childbirth
  • Pelvic floor muscle weakness and damage
  • Nerve damage

How are urinary and fecal incontinence treated?

Treatment begins with a thorough examination to determine the underlying cause of your incontinence. When a treatment plan is developed for your type of incontinence, lifestyle and medical options will be considered.

Both urinary and fecal incontinence may benefit from pelvic floor muscle exercises, because the muscles that control urination and bowel movements are part of this group of muscles. Fecal incontinence may improve with dietary changes, antidiarrheal medications, or laxatives.

Several types of surgical procedures may also be considered for urinary and fecal incontinence. These interventions work by improving the closure of the anal sphincter muscle, correcting prolapse, or supporting the bladder.