Urinary incontinence is a problem that one in three women suffer from, but that few are willing to talk about. It can be an embarrassing topic to bring up with friends or family, but most women aren’t even comfortable discussing it with their doctor, which means they’re left wondering what’s normal and what’s not.
Although urinary incontinence can affect anyone, women are at a greater risk because of childbirth or menopause. But those aren’t the only culprits. Darlene Gaynor-Krupnick, DO, urologist at Lankenau Medical Center, explains the most common causes of urinary incontinence in women.
Types of urinary incontinence
Urinary incontinence can range from occasional leakage to the sudden urge to urinate and hurrying to the bathroom.
There are three main types of urinary incontinence: stress, urge, and mixed. Stress is the loss of urine when you exert pressure—think sneezing, coughing, or laughing. Urge is the sudden feeling to urinate, followed by an leakage of urine. Urge incontinence often leave you with only a few seconds to get to the bathroom. Mixed incontinence is a combination of both stress and urge. These types of urinary incontinence can all be a result of your health history, like a urinary tract infection, constipation, a hysterectomy, or pregnancy and childbirth.
Pads and protective garments aren’t the only option for dealing with incontinence. There is a long list of options available for women, ranging from behavioral and physical therapy like Kegel exercises and pelvic floor therapy to surgical treatments like sling procedures.
“There are a number of different options for women to treat urinary incontinence. What works for one woman is not necessarily the right answer for another. It all depends on the severity of the problem,” explains Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick. “But the first step is having a conversation with your doctor and figuring out what is the best option for you.”
Take the first step in treating urinary incontinence by making an appointment with your doctor. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.