Urinary incontinence is the loss of ability to control the release of urine from your bladder.
“Thirty percent of aging women will experience stress urinary incontinence,” says urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman. “What that means is that you leak urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, hit a golf club, and it’s due to the support structures of the bladder and urethra stretching due to childbirth and aging.”
Stress incontinence occurs when the sphincter muscle of the bladder is weak, resulting in involuntary loss of urine when stress or pressure is exerted. Stress can be in the form of a cough, sneeze, laugh or physical activity.
Women who have experienced pregnancy, childbirth or menopause often develop stress incontinence due to the physical changes in their bodies.
Urge incontinence occurs when the bladder muscles contract, or spasm, which is also described as an overactive bladder. A person will experience an intense, sudden urge to urinate and often will not make it to the toilet in time.
Urge incontinence can result from a variety of health problems, such as urinary tract infections, nervous system damage and bowel problems.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says that everyone has a different threshold for when they feel the urge to urinate. He adds that caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics, substances that push fluids through your system more quickly, and drinking copious amounts of them will have you running to the loo.
“If it’s interfering with your quality of life, you should get a work-up done,” OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. "There are potential medications available."
Treatments for urinary incontinence depend on the underlying condition and include: medication, pelvic floor muscle training, surgery or behavioral changes.
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