Q&A

You just can’t help yourself when it comes to urinary incontinence. It affects 13 million Americans, 85 percent of which are women. But help is available when you visit a urologist, a physician who has specialized knowledge and skill in treating problems of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.

? what is urinary incontinence?

It is loss of voluntary control over your urinary functions. There are many types of urinary incontinence, including:

  • Stress incontinence: Loss of urine when pressure is put on the bladder (sneezing, coughing, laughing).
  • Urge incontinence: Often referred to as “overactive bladder,” urge to urinate is strong and patients feel as if they can’t get to the bathroom in time.
  • Mixed incontinence: A combination of both urge and stress incontinence.
  • Overflow incontinence: Occurs when the bladder is so full that it leaks urine.

? how can a person get relief?

Treating urinary incontinence can be done through behavior modification techniques, drug therapy (only effective in certain types of incontinence), injectable agents, catheters, absorbent products, mechanical devices, surgery or suspension slings.

? what surgical treatments are available if self-management doesn’t work?

Most surgical treatments are minimally invasive with long-term results. That means a person no longer needs to depend on daily maintenance products. One treatment is the sling procedure, which can often correct stress incontinence in women by supporting the bladder neck and urethra in their natural positions. The procedure has an 85 percent success rate.

? what is pelvic organ prolapse?

Millions of women who have urinary incontinence also have pelvic organ prolapse, usually found during a routine pelvic exam. It will not go away on its own and may require surgery for symptom relief. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the vaginal wall is too weak to hold the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus and rectum, in place. Both surgical and nonsurgical treatments are available.
If you’ve ever been uneasy because of urinary incontinence, you may want to see a urologist.

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