Handle urinary incontinence easily

For this article, I diligently researched incontinence jokes, but none put me in stitches. So I'll lay it out straight.

Women lose urine. And it’s not an “old-woman’s” thing. One-third of women between the ages of 30 and 50 report urinary incontinence.

If you can handle the occasional accidents and still find pee jokes funny, then do what you’ve always done. But if you sleep poorly, have tripped and fallen while rushing to restrooms, or find these accidents annoying, depressing, embarrassing and activity-limiting – know there’s help.

Here’s a glimpse of what you and doctors can start with.

First let’s figure out what type of urinary incontinence you have. Treatments are somewhat different.

There are many types of urinary incontinence; most women have one (or a combination) of two types. Stress incontinence occurs with stress like sneezing, laughing and jumping.

Urgency incontinence is the “I got to go,” that is, the minute you feel the urge to void, you need to void immediately or accidents happen. You know the locations of all the restrooms in places you frequent.

A few simple maneuvers can relieve both types of incontinence.

  1. Cut down on natural “water pills” like smoking, alcohol and caffeine.
  2. Drink small amounts of water frequently (4-5 ounces per hour) instead of large amount of water periodically.
  3. Schedule regular restroom breaks – every two to three hours (shorter intervals if you just had your morning coffee). Void before you even feel the urge.

Can you still leak after you “empty” your bladder? Unfortunately, yes. The problem is that after voiding, the bladder normally retains up to 200 milliliters of urine. While scheduled restroom breaks cannot eliminate accidents, it can downgrade Hurricane Michael to trickles.  

Specific treatments for stress incontinence:

  1. Kegel exercises (pelvic floor muscle contraction). One study showed by doing 30 contractions daily (“3 sets of 10 contractions held for 10 seconds each”) for a year, 68 percent of women achieved complete relief. It’s safe and free; I’m sold.
  2. For those thinking about losing a few pounds, here’s another incentive. Stress incontinence responds well to modest weight loss. Studies show you can halve the incidence of accidents.
  3. Surgeries – like the midurethral sling, a 30-minute outpatient procedure – can restore healthy anatomy and boast a median cure rate of 84 percent at one year. A good option after you’ve tried everything else.

Specific treatments for urgency incontinence:

  1. Drugs. Urgency incontinence is the bladder equivalent of ADHD. Instead of surgery, seven FDA medications work, albeit modestly, by relaxing bladder muscles.
  2. In addition, while not specifically designed for incontinence, estrogen (female hormone) in the form of vaginal suppository might help. But bizarrely, estrogen taken by mouth might worsen incontinence. Don’t ask me why. I also don’t know why everybody’s ogling over the new movie "A Star Is Born."

On the bright side, your bladder’s short attention span allows you to sit out anything you don’t want to do. Like group Skype, destination wedding, watching another rebirth of "A Star Is Born," placenta-eating party. I’m not saying you should; I’m saying, in my experience, nobody dares to rebut.

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Volume 10, Issue 20, Posted 10:07 AM, 10.16.2018