Incontinence In Women

About  female incontinence

There are more incontinence cases in women than men. 80% of all people living with some form of urinary leakage are women. Pregnancy, delivery, menopause, and the anatomy of a woman are all reasons that contributes to the increase of incontinence in women. Older women have a higher risk of having this problem than younger women. It is a very common problem with more than 30% to 50% of the women over the age of 60 years dealing with it. Incontinence is manageable and often treatable.

Women often report a range incontinence types, like a slight leakage of urine when they laugh, cough or sneeze, to frequent and unexpected losses of large amounts of urine. Some women think urinary leakage a part of normal ageing and believe nothing can be done to help. This perception needs to change – do not put up with urinary leakage – do something about it. Many women find the help and advice they receive from doctors, make a real difference in preventing the social discomfort and managing the problem

Types of incontinence in women

There are five main types of female incontinence:

  1. Stress incontinence: Stress incontinence happens when you sneeze, cough or laugh. This puts extra pressure on your weakened pelvic floor muscles, forcing small amounts of urine to leak out. Stress incontinence is a very common form of incontinence that affects women.
  2. Overflow incontinence:  This kind of incontinence happens when you experience a constant dribbling or flow of urine. 
  3. Urge incontinence: This is when the urge to go to the toilet is so sudden and powerful that it gives you very little time to get to the bathroom. This causes leaks before getting to the toilet.
  4. Urinary Frequency: This type of incontinence is when the you feel the need to use the toilet much more frequently than is normal.
  5. Overactive Bladder:  A lot of women experience a mix of urge incontinence and frequency. This condition is known as an overactive bladder syndrome or OAB. OAB can sometimes be accompanied by urinary leakage, OAB-wet and sometimes not, OAB-dry. In many cases OAB is distressing as it effects your social confidence

Causes for female incontinence

Natural childbirth is not an easy process and this process puts a lot of pressure on the pelvic muscles of a women. Multiple child birth will increase the stress on the same set of muscles. While some women face incontinence for a few months and able to recover from it, some may continue to have the problem as their ability to withstand the stretching of the muscles and it’s recovery would be different

For the older woman, the changes in hormone levels can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. This increases the likelihood of urinary tract infections as well as urinary frequency.

Other common conditions that contribute to incontinence are:

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) constipation.
  • Side effects from some medications. 
  • Surgical procedures such as a hysterectomy.
  • Disability that effects your movement preventing you from getting to the toilet in time.
  • Chronic conditions like diabetes
  • Progressive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

It’s important to understand that incontinence is not an inevitable part of ageing, nor is it necessary to accept long-term incontinence after bearing a child. In many cases, urinary incontinence can be cured, and can always be better managed.

Most women with incontinence have weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles that occur due to natural childbirth and/or ageing, and may not be able to support a full bladder. One can gain back some strength in these muscles by learning and practicing Pelvic Floor Exercises.