About Female Urinary Incontinence

About Female Urinary Incontinence

Urinary System Diagram Urinary System Diagram

Types of Urinary Incontinence

The most common types of urinary incontinence in women are:

Stress incontinence

The most common type of incontinence, stress incontinence happens when an action puts pressure on the bladder, causing urine leakage. Coughing, sneezing, jogging or exercising, lifting something heavy, and even laughing can contribute to urine leaks.

Urge incontinence

Sometimes called "overactive bladder", urge incontinence occurs when you experience a sudden, strong urge to urinate, followed by urine leakage you can't control. You may feel the need to urinate often or when you don't expect it, including throughout the night, during sleep or after drinking water. This type of UI is more common in older women.

There is also functional incontinence. With this type of incontinence, a disability or obstacle keeps you from making it to the restroom in time. For example, you may have trouble walking and can't get to the restroom in time, or you have arthritis in your hands that makes it difficult to undress before you begin to urinate.

Discussing Urinary Incontinence With Your Doctor

Because the treatment or management for urinary incontinence will vary with each individual, it’s important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

It’s not uncommon to be hesitant or even embarrassed to talk about bladder problems in women with a doctor. A little preparation can help your appointment be productive, and these tips can help you to discuss your incontinence with your doctor:

Track Symptoms

Track your symptoms.

Record your symptoms for several days to help your doctor better understand patterns, times, and causes of your urine leakage.

Write down questions

Write down questions.

It can be frustrating to leave the doctor and realize you forgot to ask her something. Writing down your questions can help ensure all of your concerns can be addressed.

Bring a list of your medications

Bring a list of your medications.

This includes any supplements, vitamins, or OTC medications as well as prescriptions. Its important to be open about this to your doctor to ensure any new medications he prescribes do not react with something you're currently taking.

Do a little research.

Do a little research.

Learn more about the various treatment options for urinary incontinence and ask your doctor about the ones you're interested in, or ones you think would be helpful.

Bring an advocate.

Bring an advocate.

Some people find it helpful to bring a trusted advocate, such as a partner, caregiver, or family member, to their appointments with them.

You can begin your discussions about female incontinence with your primary care doctor or OBGYN. Your provider may also refer you to a specialist if they decide you need a different treatment or additional diagnosis. These specialists are usually urologists, who specialize in urinary issues in men and women, or a urogynecologist, who specializes in the female urinary system.

Managing Urinary

Incontinence At Home

There are things you can do to manage your urinary incontinence at home as well. Some people with urinary incontinence find the following tips helpful for managing urine leakage in women:

  • Kegel/pelvic floor exercises. These exercises may help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Lose weight, if needed. If you're overweight, losing weight can help reduce the pressure that excess weight puts on your bladder and surrounding muscles.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can exacerbate urinary incontinence.
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages are diuretics, which stimulate the bladder and increase urine volume.

Urinary Incontinence and Sleep

Urinary incontinence can also affect your sleep. Not only does waking throughout the night to use the bathroom disrupt your sleep schedule, urine leakage or bedwetting can result in disrupted sleep as well.

If you urinary incontinence is affecting your ability to get a good night’s sleep, a trip to the doctor may be in order. In the meantime, these tips may help you avoid accidents at night:

  • Limit fluid intake before bedtime. This is especially true for alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as mentioned above.
  • Try to double-void before bed. Urinate twice before you go to bed — once when you begin your nighttime routine and once again right before you lie down for the night.
  • Consider products to help manage leaks. There are also products that may help manage urine leakage and reduce bedwetting incidents. These include pads, liners, or a nighttime urine collection system like the PureWick™ System.