Who hasn’t heard that laughter is the best medicine? But have you ever laughed so hard that you embarrassingly leaked or peed, even just a little? This can be a problem if you are leaking every time someone makes you laugh, especially when you are at the movies or reminiscing with friends.
This condition – not being able to control tiny leakages when performing natural or involuntary activities like laughing and sneezing – is known as urinary incontinence, and for the 45 percent of women who have it, it is nothing to laugh or sneeze at! The good news is, it can be treated, and you are not alone.
Urinary incontinence can affect you physiologically and psychologically. For example, women may avoid going out because they’re embarrassed or worried about having an accident away from home. Other problems include sexual dysfunction and depression. Here is a handy guide to better understanding incontinence in women.
Types of Incontinence
The two primary types of urinary incontinence that can affect women are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
- Stress Incontinence occurs when a woman’s pelvic floor muscles are damaged or weakened. The “stress” isn’t from a typical day in any woman’s life; it comes from pressure being put on the pelvic floor muscles. As a result, women with stress incontinence leak urine unexpectedly, and is common in women who have given birth vaginally, or who are laughing uncontrollably, coughing, sneezing, or exercising.
- Urge Incontinence, as the name suggests, causes women to feel like they have an overwhelming sense to urinate at unexpected times and often results in leakage before reaching a bathroom. The problem is thought to also be due to spasms of the bladder and can happen day and night. It is more common in women who are overweight or have diabetes or other chronic diseases, but diuretics (caffeine, water pills), drinking too much fluid, and bladder infections can contribute to urge incontinence as well.
Treatment Can Help
There are identifiable medical factors that your doctor can identify and treat accordingly. Once you are accurately diagnosed, it is important to watch your fluid intake and things that could irritate your pelvic floor muscles and bladder, such as caffeinated or acidic drinks, and even some alcohol.
As extra abdominal fat can create pressure on the bladder, shedding some extra weight may also help with urinary incontinence. The more physically active a woman is, the less likely she is to suffer from urinary incontinence. Kegel exercises aren’t just for new moms, anyone can use them to strengthen their muscles to lessen leaking. Pelvic floor physical therapy with a trained provider can also be beneficial.
Women who are incontinent can experience symptoms of both urge and stress incontinence. Of course, putting a label on incontinence doesn’t help with embarrassment or the stress that comes with not knowing what is going to happen if you sneeze, laugh, or get a little too motivated in your Zumba class. All you need to know is that you can take charge to get your life back. If you think you may be suffering from urinary incontinence, talk to your urologist; there are medical professionals who can provide treatment and hope.
The caring staff at Urologic Surgeons of Arizona wants you to shares laughs without worry. To learn more about urinary incontinence and how we can help treat your condition, call the office of Urologic Surgeons of Arizona at (480) 409-5060 to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online.