Sometimes a person can develop a condition that isn’t just disruptive to her life, but is embarrassing as well. These kinds of issues are doubly problematic because not only do they make daily life difficult, but it can be challenging working up the nerve to speak to your doctor about it out of embarrassment. These feelings are common and understandable; however, you should always discuss new symptoms with your doctor, so they can be investigated.
One such condition is urinary incontinence or, fecal incontinence, which can be related and occur simultaneously. Beyond being embarrassing, these conditions can make getting through the day nearly impossible to say nothing of the hygienic issues involved. While incontinence isn’t rare by any means, it’s not something you need to just accept. Your OBGYN is someone you should turn to when suffering with incontinence as the reason is often gynecological in nature. Here is what you need to know about treating different kinds of incontinence.
The first question you’re probably asking is yourself is “Why is this happening to me?” This is, of course, a fair question and while it may seem like a stroke of bad luck, know that incontinence of some kind affects many women at some point in their lives. For the vast majority of women, the development of incontinence is related to muscular issues, primarily due to the stresses of child birth. You may have heard (or fear) that your incontinence issues are related to a neurological condition. Chances are if all you’re experiencing is incontinence of some kind with no other new or troubling symptoms, you shouldn’t worry yourself too much as a neurological condition would bring additional complications. Of course, you want to check with your doctor anyway to rule out anything very serious.
The two primary forms of incontinence need to be explored separately as they can arise due to different factors. Let’s begin with urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is the more common type that a woman is likely to suffer. Urinary incontinence as a condition can be broken down into two subtypes: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. While the end result may be the same, the mechanisms are somewhat different.
Stress incontinence occurs when pressure is put on the bladder. Pressure can be anything from lifting heavy objects to laughing or sneezing too hard. Any muscular contraction powerful enough can cause urinary leakage.
Urge incontinence is what is commonly referred to as “overactive bladder.” With urge incontinence, you feel the need to urinate far more often than what is normal. The hallmark of overactive bladder is constantly needing to go, even if only to pass a small amount of urine.
The most common reasons for urinary incontinence include muscle weakness from aging or diabetes, urinary tract infections, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, pelvic organ collapse, and certain medications. Some foods or beverages may also aggravate existing urinary incontinence issues.
Fecal incontinence happens for fewer reasons than urinary incontinence, though those who suffer with it find it even more troubling. Fecal incontinence usually occurs due to vaginal childbirth, pelvic floor muscle damage or weakness, or nerve damage. While you may not associate fecal incontinence with gynecological issues, your OBGYN is exactly the person you want to talk to as they specialize in incontinence issues of all kinds. Pelvic floor treatments may be exactly what you need.
Treatment changes depending on your specific situation. The initial goal will be to determine what the underlying cause of the incontinence is. From there, a treatment plan will be devised. Many patients benefit from physical therapy, specifically pelvic floor muscle exercises to develop strength. When the muscles are strong enough, incontinence issues can be reduced. Certain lifestyle changes may be recommended as well, such as altering your diet or taking certain medications. If no other methods work, surgery may be recommended to correct the anatomical issue that is causing your incontinence.
Urinary and fecal incontinence are life disrupting conditions. Not only can they cause significant embarrassment, but it makes daily tasks difficult. Many women develop these conditions with age for different reasons. However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s just something you need to accept. Treatment for incontinence is possible. However, getting to the root of the problem will be key when trying to find a solution. While it may make you self-conscious, it’s important to report any incontinence issues to your OBGYN so possible causes and treatment options can be explored. If you’re suffering with urinary or fecal incontinence, book an appointment online with us today. The team at The Association for Women’s Health Care is dedicated to providing you with the care you need so you can live your life comfortably and in good health.