Female Urinary Incontinence Is More Common than You Think

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Urinary incontinence is an embarrassing problem, but it’s a common issue for many adults. While it can affect anyone, twice as many women have urinary incontinence compared to men, and more than 4 out of 10 women 65 and older struggle with it.

Urinary incontinence describes bladder control issues that range in severity. Some women may leak small amounts of urine when they sneeze or laugh, while others have such a strong urge to urinate that they can’t make it to the bathroom in time.

Here at Women's Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey in Hackensack, New Jersey, our patients rely on Dr. Khashayar Shakiba, an experienced urogynecologist who understands the impact urinary incontinence can have on your life. You don’t have to be embarrassed or try to find solutions on your own, because we’re here to help.

The truth about urinary incontinence

After your kidneys make urine, it moves into your bladder for storage. To empty, your bladder muscles tighten and force urine through your urethra. In turn, the sphincter muscles surrounding your urethra relax so the urine can flow out of your body.

When you have urinary incontinence, your bladder muscles tighten suddenly to force urine out, but your sphincter muscles can’t keep your urethra shut. This dysfunction can create a strong and urgent need to urinate that’s difficult to control. It also means that applied pressure from actions, like exercising or sneezing, can cause you to leak urine involuntarily.

In some cases, you can also develop urinary incontinence issues if you have problems with the nerves controlling your urethra or bladder muscles.

When you have incontinence problems, you can pass small amounts of urine or a large volume at one time.

Urinary incontinence and women

Women suffer with urinary incontinence more often because of the makeup of the female reproductive systems and typical health events -- pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause -- that directly impact our bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles.

Your pelvic floor supports your uterus, bladder, urethra, and bowels. When they grow weak or sustain damage, the muscles in your urinary tract have to work harder to hold your urine until you’re ready to go to the bathroom. These changes put added stress on your urethra and bladder, which can increase your chances of having leakage or incontinence problems.

As a woman, you also have a shorter urethra. This makes you more vulnerable to urinary incontinence because there’s less muscle to hold your urine in place if you have any damage or weakness in your urethra.

Even though urinary incontinence becomes more common as you grow older, it isn't a normal part of aging, and you don't have to learn to live with it.

Finding solutions for female urinary incontinence

As an expert in urogynecological issues, Dr. Shakiba offers several approaches to managing urinary incontinence. After performing a comprehensive physical exam to determine the cause of your bladder control issues, he develops a personalized plan based on your diagnosis, the severity of your symptoms, and your current overall health.

In some cases, Dr. Shakiba recommends specific prescription medications that calm an overactive bladder in combination with exercises designed to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Dr. Shakiba also offers nonsurgical treatments for urinary incontinence, like percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS). This therapy helps address nerve disorders affecting your bladder and pelvic floor function. Another nonsurgical strategy to help with urinary control issues is biofeedback. This technique works by helping you identify the muscles associated with your incontinence so you can more effectively exercise them.

In some cases, Dr. Shakiba might recommend surgical treatment. The most common option for treating female urinary incontinence is transobturator sling placement. During this procedure, he places a sling around your urethra and the neck of your bladder to help keep your urethra closed.

If you’re one of the many women who struggle with female urinary incontinence, don’t let it affect your confidence and quality of life. Call the office or schedule an appointment online at Women's Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey so we can help you find solutions.

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