Urinary incontinence, or the unintentional loss of urine, is a common phenomenon in women. There can be many causes of female urinary incontinence including pregnancy and menopause. It can also happen as a result of weak muscles of the bladder and nerve damage.
Female urinary incontinence can be distressful at any age irrespective of the reason behind its occurrence. Nonetheless, optimism and determination should always remain. Promising research outcomes are in progress for finding new and better methods of treating this condition.
There are some useful methods of dealing and treating female urinary incontinence. Implementing one or a combination of two or more can ease your discomfort and streamline your body to face every day in a better way.
Methods to Deal With Female Urinary Incontinence
Training the Muscles for Better Control
Female urinary incontinence is not uncommon and can be treated through several methods (or a combination of methods). Bladder training is a behavioral treatment for incontinence. Kegel exercise is one such method of treating incontinence which can be particularly effective with mild symptoms. It is among the most commonly used treatment starters and aims at strengthening the muscles which are responsible for holding urine.
This exercise is done by clenching and unclenching the pelvic floor muscles. You can get acquainted to the pelvic floor muscles by passing urine and stopping the stream midway; the muscles which hold urine are the ones to be exercised. However, habitual stopping of urine midway can actually weaken muscles and so this exercise should be avoided while passing urine.
Instead, you can do Kegels elsewhere (and everywhere else). When you get attuned to your pelvic floor muscles, you can begin exercising for a cycle of three seconds and gradually increase the time to ten seconds. Repeat for ten cycles. Start with lying down position. Slowly, you may do the exercise while sitting or standing.
If you find it difficult finding the right muscles, try this one. Imagine you want to lift (suck or draw) a marble with your vagina. Without intervening with other muscles, try to do this to get the pelvic muscles. Do not hold your breath while doing this. Nerve damage may inhibit you from doing Kegel exercises correctly. Take help from your doctor to determine whether you are doing the exercise correctly or not.
Using Medicine for an Overactive Bladder
Female urinary incontinence arising out of an overactive bladder can be treated with medication. Medication actually blocks the nerve signals causing uncontrolled urination. The group of medicines, called anticholinergics, aid relaxation of bladder muscles and ease your discomfort arising out of frequent involuntary urination.
However, these medicines can cause dry mouth, blurred vision, flushing, drowsiness, memory loss and even increase the heart beat. If you are suffering from glaucoma, you need to consult your doctor before taking any such drug. Other medication can work by affecting nerves and muscles differently. Talk to your doctor for best advice.
Neuromodulation for Treating Urge Incontinence
There are different types of incontinence and different treatments can be used for each type; urge incontinence can specifically be treated with neuromodulation. This therapy can work when behavioral treatments or medications are ineffective. In neuromodulation, nerves are stimulated using a device.
Your doctor can determine if this therapy can work for you or not by applying an external stimulator. Since it is not meant for everyone, your doctor will go for implantation only when he/she finds a substantial reduction in symptoms. The therapy, involving surgery with possibilities of replacement, is expensive.
Many women’s bladder may never empty completely due to poor muscle tone or after a surgery or a spinal cord injury. In such cases, a catheter can help. The catheter, which is a tube inserted through the urethra into the bladder, can help empty the bladder. Depending on your need, the catheter can be used occasionally or on a constant basis. In case you use an indwelling-long-term-catheter, keep a watch for urinary tract infections.
Treatment of Stress Incontinence
Weak pelvic muscles can lead to stress incontinence in women. In such cases, treatment can be done by implementing a pessary (a stiff ring) into the vagina. This ring presses against the vaginal wall and urethra to change the positioning of the urethra leading to less leakage. When implementing a vaginal device, make it a point to check with your doctor regularly for dealing with infection (in case it happens).
Injections can also be used to make the urethra and bladder neck thicker thereby closing the bladder opening to reduce stress incontinence.
Bulking agents, like collagen and carbon spheres, can be used for injecting near the urinary sphincter. Since your body can eliminate some bulking agents gradually with time, repeated injections are likely to be implemented. You may have to undergo a skin test for determining any allergic reaction and best suitability of the bulking material.
Some women can experience their bladders moving out of the normal position, particularly after childbirth. Surgery can be done for supporting the bladder back to its normal position.
Some Other Useful Hints for Coping With Urinary Incontinence
Besides the treatment methods discussed above, female urinary incontinence can also be dealt with other lifestyle and preventive methods. Many women find menstrual pads helpful in taking care of light leakages. The tampon can also be used to aid prevention of leakage. Others may find restricting liquids a better way of dealing with urinary incontinence.
Maintain a Schedule
Scheduling urination can help to certain extent. Timely urination can keep the bladder empty and signal the body for ‘no leakage’. Even if you do not feel like going to urinate, train your body for timely urination, may be at intervals of one to two hours.
Try to urinate again even after you think you have finished urinating. Take time, relax and then urinate again. This practice can help empty the bladder and reduce the need for frequent urination.
There are simple things you can do to prevent accidental leakages. When you feel even the slightest urge or hint for urination, head straight to the bathroom. Keep your path clear of obstacles to reach their faster. Help yourself by wearing comfortable easy to remove clothes. You can also use elastic waistbands or Velcro for easier removal of clothes.