Have you ever experienced that feeling when you really need to pee in an instant? No matter how hard you try to stop the urine from flowing, you just can’t do anything! You even had that one time when you walked home with your pants so wet from the pee you were not able to hold. If this has happened to you once or several times, then you could be having urinary incontinence. Incontinence is one of the common symptoms felt by a lot of women, especially during their menopausal period.
The thing is, you are not the only one who has this concern. About 20% of women in their menopause actually have problems with incontinence. A lot of women suffer from this condition, but most of them chose to hide their experiences. Women are embarrassed to talk about it even to their own family or close friends. Often times, they tend to keep it and wait for a long time, until they get the courage to share their concerns. If you are like these women, it is high time you know that it is best to talk about your incontinence now. There are so many things you can do to get rid of it.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary Incontinence is the condition where it is hard or impossible for a person to hold urine. It can be classified in two subcategories. The most common type of urinary incontinence is Stress Incontinence. In this type, a woman may lose her bladder control especially when she is lifting heavy objects, sneezing, coughing or even laughing too hard. Some women may be able to hold their urine in the middle, but some fluids have already leaked out. Some others just don’t have total control at all and they just feel their urine gush out.
The other type is Urge Incontinence. This type of incontinence is also known as the condition of having an overactive bladder. With this category, a woman has very active bladder muscles and the bladder somehow always feels distended or full. In this situation, women feel the need to urinate even if their bladder does not have urine in it yet.
Why is It Happening to Me?
Normally, the muscles in the bladder work together with the pelvic nerves to control urination. The pelvic nerves can sense when the bladder is already full with urine. The pelvic muscles in your urethra is responsible for holding in the fluids until you are safe to pee in the bathroom. What happens with incontinence in women is that the pelvic floor tends to weaken, because of several reasons.
According to experts, urinary incontinence is highly associated with menopause. During menopause, women have decreased estrogen production. One of the functions of estrogen is to strengthen the pelvic floor. Without it, incontinence could occur. Another reason why incontinence happens is because of trauma to the pelvic area. Infection and surgery scars in the pelvic region may increase the occurrence of incontinence in women.
In some women, they experience incontinence after giving birth. Many women who had multiple pregnancies and vaginal deliveries find it hard to control their bladder. The chances of incontinence after pregnancy is increased if the woman has delivered large babies or if she had long period of pushing during delivery. If assisted delivery was performed, especially using forceps, it will also increase the possibility of incontinence.
Prolapse of the pelvic organ is also one of the reasons why incontinence happens. As the woman gets older, muscles in the pelvic region tends to weaken. In this case, the muscular support provided to the pelvic wall is lost. This would cause herniation or the actual prolapse of the pelvic organs, including the bladder and the urethra, into the vaginal canal.
How Do I Prevent Myself from Experiencing Incontinence?
Incontinence happens to a lot of women, especially in their later age. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to suffer from it too. You can do several things to prevent incontinence from ruining your days as you experience menopause. One of the most important things you need to consider is to keep your weight within the normal range. Being overweight can actually put more pressure on your bladder. If this happens, the urinary incontinence could get really worse and you would want to avoid that as much as possible.
Exercise for incontinence does not only mean keeping a good weight. What is most important for you to do is to perform exercises that will increase the strength of your pelvic floor. The Kegel Exercise is one thing that most experts suggest to avoid incontinence. It makes your pelvic floor strong, plus it’s a good practice to improve your sexual experience as well.
If you want to make sure to avoid incontinence, it would be best if you avoid drinking beverages that have high contents of alcohol and caffeine. These products are said to fill the bladder a lot quicker than other types of liquids. If you avoid them, your bladder does not get too distended and you will not have to urinate frequently.
You may want to avoid getting infections to your urinary system as well. Infections could cause temporary incontinence so you would not want that to happen. To avoid this, you have to make sure that you clean your vaginal are the right way. When you wipe, make sure that you do it from front to back. This means that you wipe from the urethra down to the vagina and lastly to the anal area. Always consider wiping from the cleanest to the dirtiest.
Where Do I Get Help for This Condition?
The trend when it comes to the treatment of incontinence is more focused on methods that are much easier to do. If you are already experiencing incontinence, you can undergo bladder training. This actually trains your muscles to work only when they are needed and not involuntarily. You can do this by trying to pass urine only at a specific time. You can plan on the hour when you would want to urinate. Before the schedule time, you have to train your bladder to hold urine, until your schedule comes.
Diet is also an essential part that you need to be concerned of. It is important for you to change some of the food that you consume. Caffeine and alcohol were already mentioned. You would want to cut down on food items that are too acidic. Acidic kinds of food actually lowers your bladder’s pH. A lower pH actually irritates the bladder even more. You may want to reduce your consumption of sugar, especially on the artificial sweeteners. It is also advisable to avoid foods that are spicy.
Lifestyle change is actually very effective. If you are a smoker, consider stopping it right now. Aside from the fact that it is bad for your lungs, it is also bad for your bladder. Like most medical practitioners would advise, stop smoking. All of the mentioned ways to help you avoid and get rid of incontinence will all be possible with proper self-discipline.
Surgery has been considered as the most effective method for treating incontinence. However, this truth has already lost its efficiency. Today, specialists suggest to follow safer and more natural practices before resorting to surgery. Surgeries are least recommended, but they are required, especially in serious cases, where simpler methods are not effective.
- Tension-Free Vaginal Tape (TVT)
One most commonly practiced no-suture involved surgery to resolve the problem of incontinence is the Tension-Free Vaginal Tape. This is done in women who have a sagging urethra that causes them to involuntary urinate when stress to bladder occurs (like coughing, sneezing or laughing). TVT is designed to support the urethra so that when coughing or suddenly moving vigorously, the urethra remains closed therefore avoiding a surprise of pee.
TVT surgery involves a mesh tape or a hammock-like tool to be put under the urethra to keep it in its right position. The tape is inserted through tiny incisions in the abdomen and vaginal wall. The whole procedure usually takes only 30 minutes, and using only local anesthesia. After the procedure the doctor will ask the patient to cough to test the efficiency of the tape.
Few hours after the surgery, the patient will be asked to urinate to test how the bladder and urethra responds to surgery. Patients could go home after the surgery or stay over night at the hospital. Help from a catheter is also most of the time suggested. The catheter is a thin elastic tube that is inserted in the bladder through the urethra that helps the patient drain urine while recovering from the operation. Usually it will take 1-2 weeks before the patient could go back to normal activities. Most doctors advise the patients to refrain from driving within 2 weeks, and from sexual intercourse for 6 weeks.
TVT comes with some risks like injury to the bladder, difficulty in urinating and urethral infection after the surgery. It is important that before engaging to TVT, ask your doctor vital questions like how much success does your doctor had with this type of surgery (it is important the skills of your surgeon). And what effort could you do to increase the probability of success of your TVT surgery (i.e., quitting smoke, losing weight or doing pelvic exercise).
There are devices in the market that could help women solve their problems in incontinence. One product that we found interesting is called, ApexM. This astounding device stimulates the muscle by a customizable probe to strengthen the pelvic and calm the spasm of the bladder muscle, therefore decreasing urgency. See for yourself!
Let Dr. Seibel help you learn more about incontinence and how you could ease the issue!