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Urinary Incontinence in Women: It's More Common Than You Think but We Have Solutions

Urinary incontinence isn’t just a problem affecting the elderly, and if you suffer from this common condition, you know how frustrating and embarrassing it can be.

Board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, John H. Kirk, MD, is well-known for his medical skill and dedication to helping women achieve optimal health. Dr. Kirk and our team at Adventist Health provide outstanding women’s health care at three convenient practice locations in Napa, St. Helena, and Hidden Valley Lake, California.

Read what this talented specialist has to say about urinary incontinence and the treatments available for relieving your symptoms.

Understanding urinary incontinence

Muscles known as the internal and external urinary sphincters control the release of urine from your bladder to your urethra so that it can flow out of your body.

The internal sphincter relaxes involuntarily, meaning you aren’t able to control its action. Instead, nerves send impulses that cause the muscle to relax and contract. The external sphincter surrounds the urethra and is voluntary, meaning it must be relaxed to allow urine to pass. This voluntary action is what allows you to hold your urine until you reach the bathroom.

Incontinence occurs when these muscles relax unexpectedly, causing the involuntary loss of urine.

Types of urinary incontinence

There are several types of urinary incontinence. Most common, and occurring much more often in women than men, are stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence.

While the results are the same — involuntary loss of urine — the underlying cause and timing of the symptoms vary.

Stress urinary incontinence

This type of incontinence occurs when unexpected pressure or physical stress on the bladder cause urine to leak from your bladder. Activities that can bring on stress incontinence include:

Stress urinary incontinence is often related to weakening of the pelvic floor muscles and or pelvic organ prolapse due to:

Depending on how full your bladder is, stress incontinence can result in significant urine loss versus a steady dribble.

Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence causes the sudden need to urinate that’s followed almost immediately by urine loss. This type of incontinence can occur at any time of the day or night and often happens so suddenly that you’re unable to reach the bathroom in time.  

Urge incontinence may be linked to an infection, bladder stones, or complications associated with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions that affect your nerve health.  

Treating urinary incontinence

Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type and severity of your incontinence. For you, Dr. Kirk may recommend:

Effective treatment starts with a thorough evaluation and accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of urinary incontinence. But regardless of the cause, you don’t have to learn to live with incontinence.

Schedule a visit today with Dr. Kirk at Adventist Health. Call our office or request an appointment online. We also offer telehealth appointments.

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