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De-Stigmatizing Urinary Incontinence

By Michael Plontz

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Stress Incontinence

The stress here is physical not emotional. Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence in women. It is normally the result of the pelvic floor muscles stretching after childbirth, certain surgeries or weight gain. The neck of the bladder drops due to this stretching and the neck may open when any pressure in the abdomen on the bladder causes leakage. The leakage is worse during a womanís menstrual period and during menopause. Thatís because the decrease of estrogen leads to lower muscular pressure around the urethra. Pressure on the bladder while laughing, sneezing, coughing, lifting, running, or getting out of a bed or chair may cause leaking.

Functional Incontinence

With this type of incontinence the person has normal bladder control but, due to a physically limiting disorder, they are unable to reach a toilet in time. For instance, someone in a wheelchair might be blocked from getting to a toilet on time or someone with Alzheimerís may not think well enough to plan a trip to the bathroom. This is a big problem in many nursing homes.

Overflow Incontinence

Here the bladder is always full, so small amounts of urine leak out. It feels as though your bladder is never completely empty or you may feel the need to empty it and you canít. Small amounts of urine are often lost during the day and night, frequent trips to the bathroom may produce only a small amount of urine leaving the feeling that the bladder is still partly full, and a long time spent on the toilet may produce a weak, dribbling stream of urine.

The causes of overflow incontinence can be loss of normal bladder control in a person with diabetes, obstruction of the urethra due to an enlarged prostate gland, or tumors and urinary stones that may also block the urethra. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated, it can cause urine to flow backwards from the bladder to the kidney that raises the risk of kidney infection and even permanent damage. This type of incontinence is rare in women.

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