Did you know that 23-35% of all women will experience urinary incontinence in their lifetime? Or that 1 in 11 women are at risk of pelvic organ prolapse? If you’re suffering from these conditions, you’ll want to consult with an experienced urogynecologist.
Urogynecology is a subspecialty within the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology that is dedicated to the treatment of women with pelvic floor disorders like:
- Prolapse (bulging or falling) of the vagina, bladder and/or the uterus
- Urinary incontinence
- Painful bladder conditions
- Fecal incontinence, fecal urgency & constipation
To help you determine if you are at risk fo incontinence, you can complete our online self-assessment and a healthcare professional will contact you.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Not all cases of incontinence are the same. There are two very common types of incontinence. They are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
- Stress Incontinence is caused by pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and related tissues. This could be a physical/external pressure, or it could be a sudden pressure caused by your own body (sneezing, laughing, etc.). Pregnancy and childbirth can also cause stress incontinence (though stress incontinence caused by these factors tends to resolve in the days or weeks following childbirth). Being overweight or obese is another common cause of stress incontinence.
- Urge Incontinence (also known as overactive bladder syndrome – OAB) refers to an urge to urinate. Patients with this type of incontinence may feel like they need to go to the bathroom even when the bladder is not filled at capacity. Urge incontinence may be caused by damage to the muscles or nervous system. Bladder stones and infections can exacerbate the symptoms of urge incontinence.
There are other forms of urinary incontinence in addition to the two described above. Some women may have both stress and urge incontinence. If you experience any symptoms of incontinence, you should let your physician know, as diagnosis and treatment is possible.
Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
Both incontinence and pelvic floor disorders (which can cause incontinence) should be discussed with a gynecologist. There are several therapies available. Behavioral therapies focus on changing lifestyle and habits so that the symptoms of incontinence are minimized. Bladder training and learning to better manage diet and fluid intake can significantly improve symptoms. Kegel exercises, which can be done anywhere and anytime, can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, thereby reducing symptoms.
Other options include electrical stimulation, medication, medical devices, injections, and surgery.
Urinary Incontinence Surgery
If more conservative treatments fail to provide relief, then your gynecologist may suggest surgery. There are several surgical procedures that may be available to patients with urinary incontinence:
- A sling procedure uses the body’s own tissues or a synthetic mesh to create a bladder sling that supports the urethra and prevents bladder leakage.
- Prolapse surgery may be used in women who have pelvic organ prolapse. In combination with a sling procedure, prolapse surgery can restore proper bladder function.
- Bladder neck suspension is done to support the urethra and bladder neck.
Additional treatments may be available. For more information about treating incontinence, please contact Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center.