It happened again! You had to go to the bathroom, making a mad dash to the restroom because you know not to linger but you couldn’t hold it. How annoying and embarrassing not to mention problematic if you are at work or out in public. Why do older women, in particular, suffer from urinary incontinence (UI), which is the involuntary loss of urine?
It happens because after pregnancy, childbirth and menopause the urinary tract structure changes, and not for the better. Usually UI doesn’t become a big issue until a woman gets older at which time the nerves and muscles responsible for holding or releasing urine start misbehaving and not doing their job.
If the bladder muscles decide to contract suddenly or the sphincter muscles are no longer capable of holding back the stream of urine, UI occurs. If muscles are damaged, urine is released with little effort on the individual’s. When overweight, a woman may have an even worse case of urinary incontinence.
The bladder is supported by the vagina, pelvic floor muscles and ligaments, which can take a beating after repeat pregnancies. Damaged muscles alter the position of the bladder. If these parts weaken, this causes the bladder to slip down and it ends up pushing out of the pelvis bottom in the direction of the vagina.
This repositioning prevents the muscles used to force the urethra shut when the person squeezes them from working as well as they should. The person squeezes but it doesn’t stop the flow.
Types of incontinence
Stress incontinence means a person is apt to release urine when laughing or coughing because these actions put pressure on the bladder.
Urge incontinence is when a person abruptly has the urge to urinate but the pee comes out before the individual gets to the bathroom. This type of incontinence can be the result of abnormal bladder contractions and which occur because of bladder spasms resulting from atypical nerve signals. Urge incontinence can get worse if taking diuretics or suffering from unrestrained diabetes, hyperthyroidism or anxiety.
Overly active bladder
An overly active bladder causes a person to void (pee) frequently. The individual with this problem is not well-suited for a long distance car trip. Expect a lot of stops. A bladder becomes active when abnormal nerves transport signals to the bladder at the wrong time. When this happens, the muscles tighten without warning. An overly active bladder causes nocturia, which means waking in the middle of the night because of the need to urinate.
Other symptoms of an overly active bladder include a sudden and powerful need to pee; going to the bathroom eight or more times during the day as well as two times during the night and the escape or gushing of urine after a intense and strong urge to urinate.
This is what you need to do…
Do Kegel exercises, where you purposely squeeze the vaginal muscles, which strengthen the muscles that hold pee in. You can do this any time or any place and no one will be the wiser.
If this doesn’t help, consult with your physician. There are medications that treat an overactive bladder that are called anticholinergics. However, there are side effects.
Nerves to the bladder can be stimulated via neuro-modulation, which is a type of therapy used to treat overly active bladders.
A pessary, which is a stiff ring, can be inserted into the vagina. The pressure that the pessary puts on the vagina and urethra results in less leakage because the urethra is resituated.
Bulking agents can be injected into the bladder neck and urethra tissues, which make the tissues denser and helps close the opening to the bladder, lessening leakage.
Surgery can be done to move the bladder back into position and support it by either retropubic suspension or sling procedure.
In the meantime, wear pads that keep you dry. Don’t stop laughing even if it does cause you to leak. Laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you.
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