Urinary incontinence

Overview

Urinary incontinence or leakage of urine can affect both men and women. It can cause a lot of social embarassment and affect the quality of life. In addition, urinary incontinence can sometimes be a symptom of serious underlying medical problem.

Causes

Urinary incontinence can be caused by the following:

Overactive bladder

These can occur in patients who are otherwise healthy and without disease. Patients find it difficult to postpone urination and tend to rush to the toilet once they have a urge to urinate. If they do not reach the toilet in time, they may leak urine (urge urinary incontinence). Occasionally, excessive bladder contractions are due to underlying medical problems such as urinary tract infection, bladder stones, prostate enlargement and diseases of the brain and spinal cord.

Stress urinary incontinence

This can be caused by childbirth (in women), or surgery for prostate cancer (in men). Patients tend to leak urine when coughing, sneezing or exerting themselves.

Urinary retention

This can lead to over distended bladder and dribbling of urine. The causes include prostate enlargement (in men) and recent pelvic surgery.

Should I seek medical attention for urinary incontinence?

It is advised that you seek medical attention if you suffer from this condition to make sure you do not have a serious medical problem. There are effective ways to treat urinary incontinence

Treatments

The treatments include medications, pelvic floor exercises and surgery.

Medication
Medication is available to suppress excessive bladder contractions. The latest types of medication are available in a convenient once-daily dose.

Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are also known as Kegel’s exercises. These strengthen the layer of muscles that are responsible for holding the urine within the bladder.

Surgery
Minimally invasive surgery can be performed if medication and pelvic floor exercises do not solve the problem. Botox injections to the bladder help to eliminate excessive bladder contractions and treat the problem of urge urinary incontinence. Tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) or transobturator tape (TOT) help to strengthen the weakened continence mechanism and treat the problem of stress urinary incontinence.