Stress Urinary Incontinence may be an embarrassing topic to talk about. Constant bathroom runs and the fear of sexual intimacy put a damper on anyone’s lifestyle. Despite the stigma that surrounds the subject, 1 in 3 women deal with this discomfort at some point during their lives.
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is the involuntary release of urine caused by weak or damaged pelvic muscles. The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and urethra. If they are weak, they may not hold urine adequately. Lauren Eisenberg, DO, FACOS, explains that SUI is simply leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, jump up and down, have an orgasm, or exercise.
While women are more commonly affected by SUI, men experience it as well. Common causes of incontinence among women include pregnancy, smoking or nerve injuries to the lower back. Men can experience SUI as a result of surgery among other causes.
Dr. Eisenberg explains, there are 2 types of incontinence. One is urge incontinence where you have the urge to go and can’t hold it. All of a sudden you urinate and often times don’t even feel it; it just comes out.
With stress incontinence, you actually know you need to urinate, but some kind of abdominal pressure like jumping, sneezing or coughing results in accidental leakage. Over half of women with SUI also have an overactive bladder. When women suffer both, it’s known as “Mixed Incontinence.” About one-third of women under 60 have urinary incontinence while more than half of women over 65 have some urine leakage.
Find out what you’re facing with proper diagnosis
Often times, a simple exam and conversation with your physician can determine what type of incontinence you’re experiencing.
A cystoscopy is one diagnostic tool a urologist might employ to assist in diagnosis. With this diagnostic procedure, the bladder is filled with water and then the physician uses a scope to observe what happens under pressure. “I have them cough or bear down, and then I can see them leak,” says Dr. Eisenberg.
For the some cases, Dr. Eisenberg, recommends diagnostic procedure called Urodynamics (UDS). With a test called abdominal leak point pressure, providers can measure the relative strength or weakness the urethra.
“Urodynamics shows us the function of the bladder. You have a urethral catheter in the bladder for women, or in the rectum for men. The bladder is filled with saline, and we can watch on the screen whether your bladder contracts, or then whether it leaks under pressure leading to urge incontinence. This it helps us determine between the two types of incontinence,” explains Dr. Eisenberg.
According to Dr. Eisenberg, urodynamics is most often used when other diagnostic tools aren’t able to pinpoint the exact cause or type of incontinence the patient is experiencing.
Nurse Practitioner Camacho says it’s important for women to recognize their incontinence symptoms early.
“Seek a Urology referral and don’t wait until the symptoms get worse. We have multiple providers who can take care of SUI,” says Nurse Practitioner Camacho.
To put this pesky leak problem in its place, two RGU experts offer solutions.
Medical advancement to the rescue
According to Dr. Eisenberg, there are three main treatments for SUI today. The first line of defense is physical therapy. “There is a great physical therapist here in El Paso who does pelvic floor muscle training,” notes Dr. Eisenberg.
A third options is urethral bulking. “ Urethral bulking is a transurethral injection of a bulking agent and that will slightly close down the urethra,” says Dr. Eisenberg.
Rio Grande Urology offers UDS, referrals for pelvic floor strengthening, urethral bulking and urethral sling procedures, and other treatments based on each patient’s specific diagnosis. Be sure to speak with your urologist about your specific case to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Lifestyle changes can help turn the tide
Another good rule of thumb against incontinence is healthy diet and exercise.
For women, Dr. Eisenberg recommends kegels, an exercise to help strengthen the pelvic floor. “Even when you aren’t pregnant, kegels help promote vaginal health,” says Dr. Eisenberg.
If you suspect you are suffering from Urinary Stress Incontinence, don’t delay in finding relief! Call 915-225-2020 to schedule your initial consultation.