Story by: Sara Thompson on May 27, 2022
Bladder control, bladder incontinence, urinary incontinence, peeing when coughing — whatever you might call it, it’s an issue that affects many women. It’s not just a “change of life” or aging issue — urinary leakage affects women of all ages. There is a certain stigma to it that keeps many women from getting treatment. However, there is help for the condition, which sometimes is corrected through treatment with a urogynecology specialist.
One in 4 women over age 18 experience episodes of urinary incontinence, according to the National Association for Continence. In addition to physical discomfort, women experience emotional pain and embarrassment, isolation and fear of ridicule that often prevent them from seeking treatment. On average, a woman will live with incontinence for more than six years before seeking medical advice, due to embarrassment or believing myths such as “incontinence is just a part of aging or being a woman” or “it’s brought on from sexual activity or drinking too much water.”
“Think of a woman’s pelvic floor muscle like a trampoline,” said Sarah M. Kane, M.D., urogynecologist with Norton Urogynocology Center. “Sometimes the muscles wear out through a lifetime of activity, including heavy lifting, chronic coughing, constipation and childbirth. If the muscles of the pelvic floor and urethra are weak, this can allow leaking.”
Chances of weakened pelvic muscles increase with subsequent pregnancies, and there’s also evidence of a genetic predisposition to incontinence issues. Other risk factors for stress incontinence include obesity and previous gynecologic surgery such as hysterectomy.
The two most common types of bladder control issues that lead to urinary incontinence are:
A common treatment for both types is Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. A woman can find the muscles by stopping and starting the urine stream. Regular exercises to strengthen these muscles can improve bladder control symptoms. A urogynecologist or pelvic floor physical therapist can evaluate if the patient is doing the exercises effectively or if there are additional exercises to perform.
A urogynecologist can help a patient evaluate the full range of treatments available and offer a customized solution. Whether that is medication, surgical procedures, internal or external devices, physical therapy, behavior modification, injections or a combination of treatment options, a urogynecologist can help the patient reach her treatment goals.
The Norton Women’s Care Pelvic Health Program specializes in caring for women with pelvic conditions. A full range of specialists, therapists and health care professionals are available to ensure you get back to the life you were meant to live — full of joy, activity, intimacy and strength.
Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.