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Urinary Incontinence

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Bladder leakage, also called urinary incontinence, occurs when pelvic muscles and tissue have weakened, causing the bladder and urethra to ease out of their normal positions. The major symptom is the involuntary leaking of urine, along with increased frequency, urgency, or pain during urination.

About 1 in 3 women are affected by some form of urinary incontinence.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

  • Stress is triggered by a physical action such as sneezing, laughing and lifting.
  • Urge is the sudden, intense need to urinate, even if you just urinated.
  • Mixed is a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
  • Overflow is caused by the bladder never fully emptying.
  • Functional is due to a mental or physical condition that keeps you from getting to the bathroom in time.

Common Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Factors influencing urinary incontinence are varied, and can include age, gender, race, and family history. Pregnancy is a major factor in female urinary incontinence, with a vaginal delivery (especially operative or if you pushed for more than one hour) being an important precursor. Hysterectomy can also lead to urinary incontinence after the procedure.

There are contributing lifestyle factors that can also increase one's risk for urinary incontinence. These factors include physical activity, smoking, obesity, diet, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and chronic constipation. Many of these can be managed with lifestyle adjustments that will help provide relief.

Treatment Options

From simple solutions to enhanced procedures, the experts at Henrico Doctors' Hospital are here to address your individual concerns. Treatments can range from medications, to physical therapy or to in-office or outpatient surgery.

Some of the treatments and procedures performed include:

  • Pelvic physical therapy and rehabilitation - May include pelvic floor and core muscle exercises, electrical stimulation, manual therapy techniques and ultrasound to strengthen and/or re-train muscles that support the bladder and restore its function.
  • Biofeedback – using electrodes to gather information on how your bladder works or doesn’t work, your doctor gives you feedback on how to manage the processes and regain control.
  • Bladder Botox injection – an injection of Botox into the bladder, causing it to expand, increasing storage capacity and decreasing urgency.
  • Non-mesh surgical options – a specialty at the Center for Pelvic Excellence.
  • Placement of midurethral support – using minimally invasive procedures, a small strip of woven polypropylene is placed under the urethra to improve support and stop stress incontinence.
  • Sacral nerve stimulation – a small implanted device delivers electrical stimulation of the nerves affecting the bladder to manage the urge to urinate.
  • Neuromodulation of bladder - uses electrical impulses to help the bladder work normally.