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WOMEN'S HEALTH

Urinary Incontinence in Females: Types, Symptoms and How to Treat It

Urinary incontinence is common among one in three elderly women

Stress incontinence is one of the types of urinary incontinence in females

Urinary incontinence treatment includes dietary changes and medications

B
Bajaj Finserv Health
April 26th, 2022
11 mins read

Urinary incontinence is a loss of bladder control that leads to leakage of urine. It may occur during coughing, sneezing, or due to a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate. It can affect your daily activities and lead to embarrassing situations. Note that this medical condition is more common in women than in men and affects 1 in 3 elderly women [1]. In a study including 3,000 women in India, 21.8% of women were found to be incontinent [2]. Although it mostly occurs as you grow old, it is not a normal consequence of aging and can be cured or treated. Through changes in diet and lifestyle, and proper medical care, controlling the signs and symptoms of urinary incontinence is possible. Read on to know about urinary incontinence in females including the its types, causes, symptoms, and more.

Additional Read: Polymenorrhea Causes and Treatment

Types of urinary incontinence 

  • Stress incontinence – Leakage of urine from pressure on the bladder during physical movements such as exercising, laughing, coughing, or sneezing
  • Urge incontinence – An unexpected leakage of urine due to an inability to hold the urine until you reach a restroom
  • Overactive bladder – A squeezing of bladder muscles without warning that leads to the leakage of urine. Nocturia and urge incontinence are some of its symptoms
  • Functional incontinence – Untimely urination due to reasons like lack of toilet access, physical disability, and medical conditions like Alzheimer’s disease that affect thoughts
  • Overflow incontinence – Occurs when your bladder is full leading to small amounts of unexpected leakage of urine
  • Mixed incontinence – Occurs when you have more than one type of urinary incontinence at a time
  • Transient incontinence – A temporary urinary incontinence due to factors like infections, medications, or cold 

physical disability

Causes of urinary incontinence 

There are several causes of this disease in females including habits, physical problems, or underlying medical conditions. Here are the most important causes in females:

  • Several foods, drinks, and medications can lead to temporary urinary incontinence by acting as diuretics: 
  1. Alcohol 
  2. Chocolate
  3.  Artificial sweeteners 
  4. Carbonated drinks 
  5. Caffeine 
  6. Citrus fruits 
  7. Chili peppers 
  8. High vitamin doses 
  9. Medications for heart and blood pressure, muscle relaxants, and sedatives
  • A few medical conditions can also cause temporary urinary incontinence that can be treated: 
  1. Constipation
  2. Urinary tract infection 
  • The following physical problems or changes can lead to persistent urinary incontinence among women: 
  1. Aging of the bladder muscles 
  2. Hormonal changes during pregnancy 
  3. Childbirth 
  4. Menopause 
  5. Obstructions like urinary stones or a tumor in your urinary tract 
  6. Neurological disorders such as spinal injury, stroke, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease

Urinary Incontinence complications

Symptoms of urinary incontinence 

Here are some common signs and symptoms:

  • A need to rush to the restroom 
  • A feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder 
  • Leaking of urine that started after a surgery 
  • Leaking of urine during exercise or physical movements 
  • Leakage of urine while laughing, sneezing, or coughing 
  • Persistent feeling of wetness without sensing urine leakage 
  • Leaking urine without knowing it or passing urine when you don’t reach the restroom in time. 

Some symptoms of urinary incontinence may indicate other medical conditions. Therefore, make sure you consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Diagnosis of urinary incontinence 

While evaluating your condition, doctors may perform a physical check and then refer you to a urologist or an urogynecologist who specializes in urinary tract diseases. The diagnosis of urinary incontinence is based on the examination of your urine sample, reproductive organs, and renal and nervous systems. The following methods may be used for diagnosis: 

  • Urine test or urine culture 
  • Bladder diary 
  • Bladder stress test 
  • Cystoscopy [3] 
  • Measuring bladder capacity 
  • Ultrasound 
  • Urodynamics 

Diagnosis of urinary incontinence 

Treatment of urinary incontinence 

The urinary incontinence treatment prescribed to you depends on factors that include your age, medical history, general health, incontinence type, medication tolerance, and preference. Based on these factors, the treatment may include the following: 

  • Behavioral therapies such as bladder training and toileting assistance 
  • Changes in your diet such as avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and citrus fruits 
  • Pelvic muscle rehabilitation such as kegel exercises, biofeedback, vaginal weight training, and pelvic floor electrical stimulation 
  • Use of a rubber device known as a pessary that is worn inside the vagina to prevent urine leakage 
  • Medications including antibiotics, vaginal estrogen, and anticholinergic drugs 
  • Surgery including slings, bladder suspension, and peripheral nerve stimulation 
  • Other procedures such as urethral bulking agents and botox injections into the bladder

Additional Read: What is Vaginal Dryness

Women suffering from this can wear diapers, shields, or pads to protect their clothes from the leakage of urine. Absorbent underclothing can also be worn under your daily clothing to manage this condition better. To prevent this condition or any other urine problem in females, it is better to get timely medical help. Consult with the top doctors online including urologists and urogynecologists on Bajaj Finserv Health. This will ensure you get the way forward on time for urinary incontinence treatment.

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