Besides all the hype about turkey and gravy, November is also Bladder Health Awareness Month. The month aims to draw awareness to common bladder problems that many women face, even though they could be receiving effective treatment. One of the biggest bladder problems that women of all ages suffer from is urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is a women’s health issue: twice as many women suffer from incontinence as men. There are two main types of incontinence:
- Urge incontinence: Involves an immediate and uncontrollable need to urinate. This condition is caused when the bladder muscles suddenly contract.
- Stress incontinence: Occurs when urine passes due to stress on the bladder, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting a heavy load. Stress incontinence is caused by pelvic floor muscles that are weakened, usually by pregnancy, childbirth or menopause.
Regardless of the cause of urinary incontinence, it can be an embarrassing and inconvenient problem. There are various treatment options that your doctor may recommend to help you with your incontinence:
- Lifestyle Changes: Your doctor may recommend that you avoid alcohol, carbonated drinks, and all forms of coffee and tea. If you smoke, they may recommend that you quit. These beverages and smoking are thought to aggravate urinary incontinence. If you’re overweight, they may recommend that you lose weight to remove extra pressure from your bladder.
- Exercises and Biofeedback: Your doctor may recommend that you practice Kegel exercises for a stronger pelvic floor. They may also suggest bladder retraining or biofeedback techniques to help you get to the bathroom before incontinence occurs.
- Medical Means: If lifestyle changes and exercise don’t help, your doctor may recommend medication or surgery to help your incontinence. Or they may recommend you use a device called a pessary to help support the bladder.
While you may think that urinary continence is just a part of being a woman, there are ways that your doctor can treat and help you manage your incontinence. But the first step is knowing that incontinence is abnormal and seeking your doctor’s help to correct the situation.
You may be embarrassed to talk about issues surrounding your bladder with your doctor, but your yearly preventive care visit is the time to discuss these issues with your gynecologist or midwife. Don’t be embarrassed. Your doctors know these problems exist and can help you correct them – it’s their job.
If you’re experiencing incontinence issues, contact our office to schedule an appointment today. You don’t need to wait for your annual checkup.
Our Gainesville and Lake City offices aim to provide compassionate care through all moments of your life, including sometimes embarrassing ones such as incontinence. Our competent staff has experience in helping women successfully manage urinary incontinence and is eager to help you gain control of your body.