KNOXVILLE — More than 15 million Americans experience urinary incontinence, a condition characterized by the inability to control urine. Women experience incontinence twice as often as men. Pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference.
Tennova Healthcare wants women to know that urinary incontinence is not an inevitable result of aging. Most women with this condition can be helped or cured.
“Urinary incontinence can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and, in some cases, embarrassing. It can also be treated,” said Gregory Glover, M.D., a urogynecologist with East Tennessee Women’s Specialists. Dr. Glover is part of an exclusive group of physicians nationally who is dual-certified in obstetrics/gynecology as well as female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. He performs gynecology surgery at Turkey Creek Medical Center in West Knoxville.
“Incontinence may be caused by a variety of factors, including urinary tract infections and pelvic support problems,” Dr. Glover said. “In fact, urinary incontinence can be broadly categorized into four different types—and figuring out which you’re experiencing can be the first step to managing these distressing episodes once and for all.”
Urinary incontinence is divided into four categories:
• Stress incontinence: Activities such as coughing, exercising, laughing or sneezing put pressure on your bladder and cause urine to leak uncontrollably.
• Urgency incontinence: You suddenly need to urinate and may not have time to make it to the bathroom.
• Overflow incontinence: You experience frequent and excessive leaking of urine. Additionally, your bladder may not empty completely when you go to the bathroom.
• Functional incontinence: Urine flow is normal, but you are not able to get to the bathroom in time because of a disease that makes it hard to move, such as arthritis.
As a result of pregnancy and childbirth, women may experience problems with the pelvic muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that support the bladder, uterus, rectum and other organs. Damage or stretching of the muscles can result in pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where the pelvic floor is no longer able to support the internal organs.
“With pelvic prolapse, the organs drop downward—often causing discomfort, urinary incontinence, bowel movement difficulties or painful intercourse,” Glover said. “Proper diagnosis may bring relief and a better quality of life. At Tennova, we have experience treating this condition and are well versed on the latest innovations, including pelvic prolapse surgery.”
If you are experiencing problems with urination, your doctor may complete a physical exam and ask questions about family history and lifestyle habits. Medication may be used to treat the cause of your urinary incontinence. Bladder training may be a good option if you have stress or urge incontinence. If nonsurgical methods of treatment do not prove effective, your doctor may recommend surgery.
“Urinary incontinence in women is widely underreported to health professionals, despite the obvious distress it can cause,” Glover said. “My advice: don’t suffer in silence. In many cases, urinary incontinence is treatable, meaning you can reclaim control over your body and start enjoying life again.”
For more information or a physician referral, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit Tennova.com.