Because of factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and the general structure of the female urinary tract, millions of women in the United States suffer from urinary incontinence. Because the condition varies in severity from slight disturbances to total debilitation and severe emotional distress, it’s important to know you have treatment options.
Types of Incontinence
The two most common types of incontinence are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Women who suffer from urge incontinence often feel a sudden frequent need to urinate caused by involuntary bladder contractions or spasms. Stress incontinence is characterized by accidental leakage when someone coughs, laughs, sneezes, jumps or runs.
A number of medications and behavioral therapies can alleviate the symptoms of urge incontinence. There are certain ways to improve pelvic floor tone and modify behaviors, but for women who do not respond well, there are surgical options available.
The most common surgical procedure for stress incontinence is the insertion of a sling, during which a surgeon places a piece of mesh under the urethra to help support the bladder and prevent leakage. It’s a simple, outpatient procedure that slows patients to return to activity quickly.
“There are highly successful treatment options available for all types of urinary dysfunction, “says Meredith Lightfoot, M.D., urologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery (THCDS). “Incontinence is not an inevitable consequence of aging or childbirth, and a great majority of women with incontinence can be helped by treatments that readily available. Even if it cannot be cured, it can be controlled.