Urinary incontinence isn’t exactly a topic of everyday conversation, despite the fact that it affects many women at some point during adulthood. Thanks to the taboo nature of talking about incontinence, there’s a fair bit of misinformation and no small stigma attached to the perfectly natural and common condition.
Here at Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Fernando Otero and the team want to do our part to clear away the myths and get straight to the facts about urinary incontinence.
If you’re embarrassed by your urinary incontinence, we urge you to put that aside for a moment and read on.
You’re not alone
If you’re struggling with urinary incontinence, you may feel like you’re all alone in this, but we assure you that you’re in very good company.
About half of women in the United States experience urinary incontinence at some point in their lives. For example, urinary incontinence is a perfectly normal part of pregnancy and can linger after you give birth as your support systems bounce back from pregnancy.
Urinary incontinence is also increasingly common as women get older — 75% of women over the age of 65 have some form of incontinence. This can occur as pelvic support systems, including those that hold your bladder in place, weaken with age.
While we want to underscore the fact that urinary incontinence is common among women, we don’t consider it “normal,” or something you simply have to put up with for the rest of your life.
There are different types of urinary incontinence
If you’re experiencing involuntary leakage, the first step is to come see us so that we can figure out what’s behind the incontinence.
There are different types of incontinence, and how we treat them is quite different. For example, a primary driver of urinary incontinence in women is a weak pelvic floor, which can lead to pelvic organ prolapse. When organs in your pelvis shift out of place, it can place added pressure on your bladder and lead to stress incontinence.
Stress incontinence is also what’s behind most pregnancy-related leakage as the fetus places more pressure on your bladder.
On the other hand, there’s a form of incontinence called urge incontinence, or overactive bladder. This form of incontinence stems from overactive contractions in your bladder, even when it isn’t full. This hyperactivity can be caused by damage to the nerves surrounding the bladder during pregnancy or childbirth or it may simply be a result of aging.
Some women experience a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
Our point here is that it’s important for us to identify the culprit behind your involuntary leakage so we can take action.
There are solutions
Our final point about urinary incontinence is an important one — there are a number of tools that can help you regain control over your bladder.
For example, if you have a weak pelvic floor that isn’t supporting your bladder well, we can try targeted strengthening exercises. If this conservative measure doesn't remedy your incontinence, we can try pessaries (small support devices that hold your bladder up) or even surgery for severe pelvic organ prolapse.
If urge incontinence is behind your leakage, we can try medications, lifestyle changes, and even Botox® injections that help quiet the contractions.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of treatment options for urinary incontinence, and we work tirelessly to find one that best suits your unique situation and goals.
If you want to make urinary incontinence a thing of the past, please contact one of our offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas, to schedule an appointment.