For more information, please call 304-526-6089
Millions of women experience involuntary loss of urine called urinary incontinence (UI). Women experience UI twice as often as men. Pregnancy and childbirth, menopause and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference, but anyone can become incontinent from neurologic injury, birth defects, stroke, multiple sclerosis and physical problems associated with aging.
Incontinence occurs because of problems with muscles and nerves that help to hold or release urine. Some women may lose a few drops of urine while running or coughing. Others may feel a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine. Urine loss can also occur during sexual activity and cause tremendous emotional distress. Many women experience more than one symptom. UI can be slightly bothersome or totally debilitating. For some women, the risk of public embarrassment keeps them from enjoying many activities with their family and friends.
Older women experience UI more often than younger women, but incontinence is not inevitable with age. Urinary incontinence is a medical problem. Your doctor or nurse can help you find a solution. No single treatment works for everyone, but many women can find improvement without surgery.
Stress: Leakage of small amounts of urine during movement (coughing, sneezing, exercising)
Urge: Leakage of large amounts of urine at unexpected times, including during sleep
Overactive Bladder: Urinary frequency and urgency, with or without urge incontinence
Functional: Untimely urination because of physical disability, external obstacles or problems in thinking or communicating that prevent you from reaching a toilet.
Overflow: Unexpected leakage of small amounts of urine because of a full bladder
Mixed: Usually the occurrence of stress and urge incontinence together
Transient: Leakage that occurs temporarily because of a situation that will pass (infection, taking a new medication, colds with coughing)
The first step toward relief is to see a doctor. Your family physician or your gynecologist can initiate an evaluation, or you may choose to visit a urologist, a specialist in the urinary tract, to learn more about your symptoms and how they can be treated. Tools for diagnosing your problem may include:
Your doctor may recommend urodynamic testing to evaluate the storage of urine in the bladder and the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra, especially if you are having symptoms that suggest problems with the muscles or nerves of your lower urinary system and pelvis (ureters, bladder, urethra, and sphincter muscles). Urodynamic testing may include:
Urodynamic studies are performed daily at Cabell Huntington Hospital. Common reasons for having the tests include any of the different kinds of incontinence, as well as neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.
Your physician can order the study by providing a written order that includes a clinical reason for performing the test. Please have your physician's office call 304-526-6089 or 304-526-2125. You must register at the Registration Desk in the hospital lobby prior to having the study performed. The only preparation for you as a patient is to have a comfortably full bladder upon arrival.
A written report of your test results is sent to your physician, who will discuss the results with you. Based on this report and the discussion with your physician, your treatment plan may include:
Don't let life pass you by because you are embarrassed or afraid to mention this problem to your doctor! You may discover that your urinary incontinence can improve with treatment. Please take the first step and share your concerns with your healthcare provider.