Nearly 50 percent of women will experience urinary incontinence during their lifetime.

The uncomfortable, and sometimes unpredictable, problem of urinary incontinence can hinder a woman’s daily activity or lifestyle, not to mention cause some embarrassing moments if not taken care of.

“This very distressing problem is also highly treatable,” said Elisabeth Sappenfield, MD, a urogynecologist with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. There are several non-surgical and surgical options that help stop or slow the incontinence and help women regain their confidence.”

The most common type of female incontinence is Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), or the loss of urine that occurs at the same time as physical exertion such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Laughing
  • Exercise
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Sexual activity

Stress incontinence occurs when the tissue that supports the urethra gets weak. The bladder and urethra are supported by the pelvic floor muscles. Urine flows from your bladder through your urethra out of the body. The muscles around the opening of the bladder squeezes to prevent urine from leaking through the urethra. When either set of these muscles become weak, urine can pass when pressure is placed on your bladder

These muscles may be weakened by:

  • Childbirth
  • Injury to the urethra area
  • Some medications
  • Surgery in the pelvic area
  • Being overweight
  • Aging

Treatments include pelvic floor physical therapy (which helps strengthen the weakened muscles), a medical device called a pessary, or minimally invasive surgery. Surgical options including non-mesh and mesh surgeries have been shown to be 80 to 90 percent effective.

“It is important for women to talk to a urogynecologist if they are bothered by urinary incontinence,” explains Dr. Sappenfield. “There is no reason, women should have to feel anxious or self-conscious about this very common problem, especially because there are so many relatively easy solutions to help address the issue.”

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