More than three-quarters of the 25 million adults in the United States who suffer from urinary incontinence are women. Although the risk for urinary incontinence increases with age, one in four women over age 18 have some form of urinary incontinence.
Whether you leak small amounts of urine while sneezing or coughing, or whether you have a persistent urge to urinate and sometimes just barely make it to the bathroom on time, you don’t have to live with the embarrassment and inconvenience of incontinence. Our expert OB/GYNs — Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD — diagnose and treat urinary incontinence at our two Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville offices in Jacksonville, Florida. Below, we’ll tell you why you’re struggling with urinary incontinence and how to take control of your bladder again.
You’ve stressed your pelvic floor muscles
Your pelvic floor consists of a series of muscles that look and act like a sling. The pelvic floor muscles hold your bladder, uterus, and rectum in place. When your pelvic floor muscles are strong, your organs maintain their correct positions and function well.
However, if you stress your pelvic floor muscles, it’s harder for your bladder to resist pressure from daily activities, such as sneezing or coughing. If you leak urine unexpectedly, you may have a pelvic floor-related type of incontinence known as stress incontinence.
The muscles around your urethra aren’t able to keep the tube closed, and so you leak a little urine. The kinds of pressure or habits that weaken your pelvic floor muscles and cause stress incontinence include:
- Being pregnant
- Being overweight
- Giving birth
- Straining while constipated
- Chronic coughing
If you have minor stress incontinence, you might be able to retrain your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises. Our doctors teach you how to do them correctly. You might also benefit from bladder training sessions that teach your bladder to hold onto urine for longer periods of time. Another highly successful method of treating stress incontinence is pelvic floor muscle therapy which our doctors provide and oversee in our office.
If you tend to be constipated, we recommend that you add more fresh foods, water, and fiber to your diet to prevent straining and putting pressure on your bladder. If you’re overweight, we help you lose the extra pounds to take the stress off your bladder (and your joints). The lifestyle changes required for healthy weight loss also reduce your risk for chronic diseases.
Your bladder is irritated
A urinary tract infection (UTI), sexually transmitted disease (STD), or even your habits can irritate your bladder. If you have urinary incontinence, we test you to be sure you don’t have a lingering infection that needs treatment.
Even if you don’t currently have an infection, your diet and activities can also affect your bladder. Habits that could lead to bladder irritation include:
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Eating spicy foods
- Drinking alcohol
If you need help breaking a habit, such as drinking alcohol or using tobacco, we may refer you to a specialist or cessation program.
Your hormones are unbalanced
As you age and your hormones shift — particularly during perimenopause and menopause — your body doesn’t produce the chemical signals that prompt it to replace old cells with new ones quickly enough, or to produce sufficient structural proteins such as collagen and elastin. The result is sagging skin and organs that aren’t as toned and tight as they were in youth.
We may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to restore your hormones to a more balanced state. When you’re on HRT, you should find that your incontinence improves or resolves. You should also experience the relief of other symptoms of hormone imbalance, such as:
- Sagging skin
- Brain fog
- Low libido
- Painful sex
- Hair loss
- Fat gain
- Bone loss
In some cases, lifestyle adjustments or HRT may not be enough to give you relief, and we recommend surgery to repair your pelvic floor muscles, ureter, or bladder. To find out why you have urinary incontinence and get the treatment you need, contact the nearest Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville office today by phone or online form.