Urinary incontinence affects 25 million people in the United States, including 1 out of 3 women. Urinary incontinence is described as the involuntary loss of urine and can range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting. There are three types of urinary incontinence:
- Stress Incontinence: Leakage with coughing, sneezing and physical exertion.
- Urge Incontinence: Leakage associated with a strong desire to urinate.
- Mixed Incontinence: a combination of both stress and urge incontinence.
Female urinary incontinence is common in all age groups, from teenagers to senior citizens. Thirty-six percent of women over 45 years old suffer from incontinence. Unfortunately, most women are too embarrassed to admit they suffer from this condition and 85 of these people will not report the problem to their physician unless the doctor brings up the subject. On average, people live with symptoms 6-9 years before seeking care.
Many factors can contribute to urinary incontinence in women: More than two pregnancies or having a baby over 8 pounds, menopause/aging and loss of estrogen and a general loss of skeletal muscle strength, chronic constipation or chronic cough, being overweight. All of these factors can weaken the connective tissue of the pelvic sling, predisposing you to incontinence.
Here’s an example of a pelvic exercise for urinary incontinence:
The good news is that in most cases, urinary incontinence is reversible with a variety of treatment approaches. The first line of treatment should be conservative such as pelvic floor physical therapy. A physical therapist specifically trained in pelvic floor diagnoses and treatment will create an individualized exercise program and may also use biofeedback, diet/fluid intake advice or vaginal electrical stimulation to treat the disorder. The Tallwood Urology and Kidney Institute can refer you to a trained physical therapist and help you on the road to a “dry” and happy future.
Hartford Healthcare Rehabilitation Network, a non-for-profit member of Hartford HealthCare offers physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, sports medicine and health & wellness programs. Please call 860.696-2500 or click here for more information.