Some variety of urinary incontinence is a fact of life for many women, particularly once they pass menopause. Symptoms of urinary incontinence include:
- Chronic urge to urinate
- Urine leaks during laughter, sneezing, coughing, or jumping
- Waking up at night to urinate
- Not making it to the bathroom in time
More than 40% of women over the age of 65 experience some form of urinary incontinence. Incontinence is divided into two main types.
Stress incontinence, the most common type, refers to urine leakage that happens when your pelvic floor is stressed. An example would be if you move suddenly or put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles by coughing, laughing, or sneezing. Stress incontinence can affect you at any age.
Urge incontinence comprises symptoms such as having to go to the bathroom multiple times, rising more than once per night to urinate, or needing to pee when you hear the sound of running water. You also may not urinate much at all once you reach a toilet. Urge incontinence is sometimes referred to as “overactive bladder” and is most common in older women.
Urge incontinence is more than an annoyance. If you wake up multiple times a night to urinate, you’re not getting the restful sleep you need to completely restore your body and brain.
At Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida, our compassionate OB/GYNs — Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD — know how embarrassing and restricting urinary incontinence can be. They offer a number of solutions to help you — and your bladder — feel better again.
Treatment for urinary incontinence starts with a full and accurate diagnosis. We conduct a complete physical exam, blood and urine tests, and possibly imaging studies, such as ultrasound. Depending on our findings, we may recommend:
If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or a sexually transmitted disease (STD), your bladder may be irritated. If so, we prescribe a course of antibiotics. Once you’ve finished the medications, your normal bladder patterns should return.
Pelvic floor exercises
Stress incontinence is often caused by pelvic floor muscles that have grown weaker because of aging and hormonal changes. Being overweight or pregnant can also put pressure on the pelvic floor, which causes the muscles to sag and lose strength.
We may recommend a series of strengthening exercises called Kegels that target your pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening your core muscles may also help resolve stress incontinence. If you don’t improve on your own, we may refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in strengthening the pelvic floor.
If you have urge incontinence, you may have behaviors that reinforce your bladder’s sense of urgency. Bladder training consists of exercises that help your bladder learn to relax and to void at appropriate times. For instance, we may ask you to:
- Keep a diary of your trips to the bathroom
- Schedule bathroom trips based on the diary
- Take the trip whether you need to go or not
- Push the time forward 15 minutes at a time
Eventually, you learn to hold urine in your bladder for longer periods of time so that you don’t feel rushed to make it to the bathroom.
If you’re postmenopausal, we may recommend hormonal medications that help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and other tissues. By restoring estrogen to your body, you may notice a number of other improvements, including better sleep and mood.
A pessary is a small device that you insert into your vagina to help support your pelvic floor muscles. Pessaries are usually made of silicone or plastic.
If non-invasive methods don’t help you, we may recommend surgery to resolve your incontinence. We may attach a mesh sling underneath your pelvic floor to support it. Or, we might stitch your bladder up higher to alleviate pressure on the pelvic floor.
No woman should live in dread of her own urinary process. If you’re embarrassed by leaks or constant trips to the bathroom, or if you wake up multiple times a night with the urge to urinate, call us for relief. Contact the Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville office nearest you for urinary incontinence treatment today.