About one-quarter to one-third of adults in the United States report problems with urinary incontinence and women account for a far larger percentage of these numbers than men. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to have problems with involuntary leakage.
As experts in women’s health, Dr. Fernando Otero and the team here at Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley are well aware of the gender discrepancy when it comes to urinary incontinence, and we’re here to help.
To that end, here’s a look at the three main reasons why women are more vulnerable to urinary incontinence. More importantly, we review a few of your treatment options because we want you to know that there are solutions.
Why women develop urinary incontinence more than men
Sure, men have problems with urinary incontinence, but not in the same numbers as women, and this is due to three female-only factors, which include:
One of the most common types of urinary incontinence is stress incontinence, which occurs when there’s too much pressure on the bladder. As you can imagine, pregnancy can certainly place some added pressure on the bladder, which is made more evident the further along in your pregnancy you go.
As your fetus grows and pushes against your bladder, the slightest sneeze or physical effort can cause urine to leak out.
While urinary incontinence disappears after pregnancy in some women, others are left with ongoing problems. During your pregnancy, your pelvic floor can weaken, which makes sense given that it not only has to support your pelvic organs, but also your unborn child. After you give birth, it may take some time for your pelvis floor to regain its strength, leaving you with a poorly supported bladder in the meantime.
As well, childbirth may have damaged some of the nerves that control your bladder, which can lead to urge incontinence — the frequent and sudden urge to urinate and the inability to control these urges.
When you pass through menopause, you lose production of estrogen. According to medical research, “Estrogen deficiency after menopause may cause atrophic changes of the urogenital tract as well as various urinary symptoms.”
Another concern is that postmenopasual women are more susceptible to pelvic organ prolapse, including bladder prolapse. Under normal circumstances, your pelvic floor provides a supportive net for your pelvic organs, keeping them well-supported and in their proper positions. With age, childbirth, and the reduction in hormones, this group of tissues can weaken, allowing organs like your bladder to shift downward, creating problems with incontinence.
Now that we better understand why women encounter urinary incontinence far more than men, let’s take a look at your treatment options, which include:
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Behavioral techniques, such as bladder training
- Hormone replacement therapies
- Pessaries that provide support for your bladder
- Bulking injections
- Botox® for overactive bladder nerves
In severe cases, we can perform surgery to provide better support for your bladder.
As you can see, there are solutions for your urinary incontinence. To determine which treatment is best for your goals, contact one of our offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas, to schedule an appointment.