News | Published May 8, 2014 | Written by Michelle Black, CRNP, urology, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Urinary incontinence not just a normal part of aging

Urinary incontinence—the involuntary loss of urine, abbreviated UI—is experienced by millions of women worldwide. While many may believe that incontinence is only linked to older adults, in truth women of all ages can experience UI. Many women feel this is a normal part of aging and accept these bothersome symptoms when there are actually many options to consider.

The most common types of UI are stress incontinence and urge incontinence, and in some women, both types of incontinence are experienced, which is referred to as mixed incontinence.

Stress incontinence occurs when an activity such as coughing, running, sneezing, laughing, or heavy lifting puts stress on the bladder. When the bladder and pelvic floor muscles that regulate the flow of urine lose strength, women may involuntarily lose anywhere from a few drops to a large amount of urine. The most common reasons for stress incontinence include childbirth, obesity and age.

Urge incontinence is described as involuntary leaking when women get the sudden, intense urge to go to the bathroom. Urge incontinence can be caused by a number of underlying health concerns such as a urinary tract infection, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and more. However, if there is no known cause for urge incontinence, it’s simply known as overactive bladder.

UI can begin as only a few drops of urine, but if the pelvic floor muscles are not strengthened through Kegel exercises or other means, incontinence can grow over time causing more frequent and larger involuntary losses of urine.

There are a few options for treating UI that do not require surgery. Kegel exercises are typically suggested as the first option for women with incontinence. However, some women find that they are not certain if they’re performing the exercises correctly.

Another option is pelvic floor physical therapy, in which a therapist essentially guides women through strengthening exercises. While this can be a good option, it does require taking time out of the day for appointments.

One of the newer non-surgical options is a device called InTone®. InTone is an FDA-approved non-surgical solution to help stop bladder leakage. It is the first device of its kind designed for both stress and urge incontinence. The InTone is a device that women use at home for 14 or 26 weeks (depending upon the diagnosis) to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

To learn more about the non-surgical options available for female urinary incontinence, speak with your healthcare provider today. Mount Nittany Physician Group urology offers convenient locations in State College and Mifflin County and providers are accepting new patients. To learn more, call 814.238.8418 or visit mountnittany.org.

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