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Urinary Incontinence in Women: Symptoms and Diagnosis

Incontinence in women

Millions of women around the world suffer from this symptom, and the severity varies greatly from woman to woman. In some cases, they may only feel the release of a small amount of urine during a run or after coughing, whereas in other cases, more seriously affected individuals may feel the need to urinate immediately, only to realize that urine has already been released.


Causes of Incontinence in Women

Women have twice as many incidences of urinary incontinence as compared to men for many reasons. These include the general structure of the urinary tract, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, which can significantly contribute to the condition. Additionally, diseases and afflictions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, stroke, or congenital physical abnormalities can also contribute to urinary incontinence. The incidence of urinary incontinence increases with age, but it should not be passively accepted. For instance, the nerves that communicate with the bladder can cause incontinence in women. However, urinary incontinence is easily treadiv, and there are a wide variety of treatments available to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Incontinence in Women - Symptoms

Urinary incontinence (UI) can be classified into four different types, based on symptoms. These include:

  • Overflow incontinence: urine dribbles uncontrollably with a full bladder. This occurs when the brain doesn’t properly receive signals from the bladder, so it is unaware that it needs to be emptied. Communication between the bladder, the surrounding muscles and nerves is very important for the proper release of urine.
  • Stress incontinence: urine is accidentally lost during “physically stressful” actions such as running, coughing, or sneezing. Stress incontinence is often exacerbated by childbirth, as delivery can weaken, injure, or destroy the structures that normally keep the urethra tightly shut. Low levels of estrogen due to menopause can also affect whether the urethra is likely to leak during “stressful” activity.
  • Urge incontinence: After feeling the overwhelming urge to urinate, urine is involuntarily lost. The overactivity of the muscle surrounding the bladder is often the culprit of urge incontinence. It usually engages in unnecessary spasms that lead to the feeling of urgent urination. A variety of conditions in the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons’s disease, stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s can all lead to urge incontinence. Women can also suffer from an overactive bladder, which has symptoms of frequency and urgency, and sometimes urge incontinence.
  • Mixed Incontinence: symptoms: This can present as a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Diagnosis of Incontinence in Women

The doctor will perform a number of tests to determine the underlying cause of urinary incontinence. Once the root of the urinary incontinence is discovered, an appropriate treatment plan can be discussed to best manage symptoms and treat the underlying cause. Many women may feel embarrassed about their symptoms or feel that they cannot engage in normal activities, but a wide variety of treatments are available. The doctor may suggest a journal record of urination amount and frequency and leakage incidents. The doctor may perform a urine lab analysis or a bladder stress test (in which the patient is asked to duplicate “physically stressful” conditions where urine may be unwillingly released). The doctor may also test the urinary tract with an ultrasound or a small camera test known as a cystoscopy.