Incontinence is common in women after childbirth, but that doesn’t mean that incontinence is ‘normal’ or not a big deal. Incontinence is a serious, but treatable, condition that can get worse over time if not treated promptly.
You may have already started to experience some leakage, urgency, or an accident or two. Many moms and women simply think that this is a part of motherhood, and nothing can be done. However, there are lots of options for resolving incontinence! Today, we’ll be outlining when you should see a doctor about your incontinence, and the steps you can take in getting treatment.
Determine The Type of Incontinence You Have
While your family doctor will be able to help you with a formal diagnosis, having an awareness of the type of incontinence you have can be helpful in forming a treatment plan. There are three main types of incontinence:
- Urge incontinence. The sudden urge to urinate due to involuntary contraction of the bladder muscles, also known as an overactive bladder, but also experience leaking at inappropriate times.
- Stress incontinence. An increase in pressure is applied to the bladder due to weak pelvic floor muscles. This occurs with physical activities such as sneezing, laughing, coughing or heavy lifting.
- Overflow incontinence. The bladder is not able to empty completely due to a blockage of the urethra, and results in small amounts of urine leaking after using the bathroom (Known as dribbling).
Depending on the type of incontinence you have, everything from exercise and lifestyle changes, to minor surgery may be recommended for your treatment plan.
When to See a Doctor for Incontinence
A lot of women resist seeking treatment because they feel that their leakage or urgency is ‘not that bad’ or that they’re managing it by wearing diapers, liners, or pads. However, any form or severity of incontinence is a medical issue that can be resolved, and should be brought forward to your healthcare provider.
Most women seek treatment when incontinence causes the following issues:
- Limiting their social life by having to be near a washroom, or from embarrassment or fear of a potential accident
- Their self-esteem and intimacy has hit an all-time low from shame and a feeling of being unclean due to leakage
- Their safety is at risk from rushing to the washroom, and potentially falling or hurting themselves in their hurry
- Their incontinence has become worse, not better, over time.
You don’t need to wait for your symptoms to become more severe to seek treatment, and taking action early can help make treatment simpler and quicker!
Treatment for Incontinence
Depending on the type and severity of incontinence you have, there are a variety of ways to manage and treat your condition:
- Lifestyle & health changes: Most women would benefit from increasing the strength of their pelvic floor, which can be done through kegels if there are minor strength issues. Some foods, such as caffeine, can also exacerbate a sense of urgency. Weight can also play a factor for stress incontinence due to the pressure from the abdomen.
- Medication1: there are a variety of medications, including anticholinergics, Mirabegron, and topical estrogen that may be prescribed depending on your form of incontinence.
- Medical devices: Urethral inserts & pessaries can be used to manually block any leakage.
- Surgery: Bladder slings, prolapse surgery, and bladder neck suspension are all options for treating incontinence that are safe, and often covered under medical insurance.
While having incontinence can be distressing, it is something that can be treated and cured. The first step is seeking help, and that one step is often half the battle!