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Types Of Urinary Incontinence
After seeing your urologist, you may learn that you have one or more of the following types of incontinence, all of which are treatable:

  • Stress urinary incontinence is the loss of urine when the abdomen is under physical stress. Any physical activity such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting a bag of groceries, jogging, or rising from a sitting to a standing position can result in leakage.
  • Urge incontinence is experienced as a sudden, strong urge to urinate, along with a sudden, uncontrollable rush or leakage of urine.
  • Mixed incontinence is a combination of urge and stress incontinence.
  • Overflow incontinence is characterized by a frequent or constant dribble of urine. Urination produces only a weak stream, and the bladder does not completely empty.

The Good News:
Treatment Choices And Cures

Your urologist will recommend the approaches that are best suited to your condition. Today's treatments can now cure the causes as well as relieve troublesome symptoms, so many women can look forward to life without incontinence again. Most procedures are highly effective. Possibilities for you may include:

Behavioral Therapy. Special exercises and changes in daily routines for improving bladder control may help most types of incontinence. Bladder training (gradually prolonging time between toilet visits) is often successful. Exercises to strengthen the sphincter muscles can help you regain and maintain continence without additional treatment. Pelvic floor exercises (or "Kegel exercises") help treat stress and urge incontinence through repeated contractions of the muscles that support your bladder.

Drug Therapy. Medicines can be prescribed to relax the bladder (if overactive) or tighten the sphincter (if underactive). Vaginal estrogen cream or timed-released suppositories can help women who have gone through menopause and have hormonal deficiency.

Devices. Non-surgical devices can be placed outside, within, or behind the urethra to keep it closed.

Injection Therapy. This treatment is an option for some cases of incontinence. Collagen, a natural substance, is often found in this procedure to bulk up the area around the urethra. This helps the internal seal close off the flow of urine.

Artificial Urinary Sphincter. This surgically-implanted device may be used if the sphincter muscle has been severely damaged.

Surgery. Surgery can restore the support of the pelvic floor muscles. Suspension and sling procedures create support for the urethra and bladder to prevent loss of urine. Suspension procedures use sutures or stitches, and sling procedures create a hammock-like bolster for support to cure incontinence. These procedures are highly successful.

Proceed to Find a Urologist

"Incontinence . . . You Are not Alone" public service campaign is sponsored by the American Urological Association, Inc.® and the American Foundation for Urologic Disease.

Copyright ©2001, American Urological Association, Inc.®

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