If you’ve ever laughed so hard that you peed your pants, you were probably embarrassed. But it’s not just something you have to accept as part of life. You may be prone to urinary incontinence, which means that you can’t hold your bladder, or you experience urinary leakage when you laugh, cough, or sneeze.
Urinary incontinence often happens when your pelvic floor muscles are weak, which is the case for many women, especially after having children and for older women. But Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich of Weyhrich OB/GYN can help you learn how to deal with it, without having to worry about peeing your pants in public anymore.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence can happen to either men or women, but it’s much more common in women. It’s caused by a weakness of your pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles that control your ability to start and stop the flow of urine and to push out feces. These muscles tend to weaken with age, although having children can also weaken them.
Other similar conditions
There are several different conditions that affect your ability to hold your bladder; urinary incontinence refers to one of three different conditions:
Certain types of activity trigger stress incontinence. These activities include:
These activities put stress on the sphincter muscle that allows you to hold in urine. The effect of the stress can cause you to release urine.
Urge incontinence occurs when you feel the signal to use the bathroom but are unable to get there in time. You may need to urinate often, including during the night. This is sometimes due to an underlying condition, such as an infection, diabetes, or a neurological disorder.
Overflow incontinence occurs when you can’t completely empty your bladder. The remaining amount of urine then dribbles out after you leave the bathroom. You may leak urine only occasionally or frequently.
How to treat urinary incontinence
One of the first things that Dr. Weyhrich may ask you to do is to keep a diary of the circumstances that cause you to leak urine. For example, it’s helpful to know how much liquid you normally drink, how many times a day you have to use the bathroom, any accidents, and what type of medications you take.
Certain lifestyle factors can make urinary incontinence more likely, including drinking too much alcohol or drinking caffeinated beverages. Sometimes, simply going caffeine-free is enough to resolve the problem.
Dr. Weyhrich may also conduct a urine test for analysis. We can also check to see if an infection is present that may be causing the problem.
If you have urge incontinence, he refers you to physical therapy and may prescribe medications such as Detrol® or Ditropan®. He may also recommend dietary changes to make your urine less acidic. These changes may include limiting consumption of tomatoes, citrus fruits, spicy foods, limiting alcohol, and avoiding caffeinated beverages.
If you have stress incontinence, physical therapy may help. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can often resolve many cases of stress incontinence. In some cases, Dr. Weyhrich may perform surgery to insert a mesh bladder sling to hold your bladder in place.
If you have urinary leakage, you should always get it checked out by a doctor. Contact Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich or make an appointment online.