They say that misery loves company, but incontinence isn’t something we’d wish on anyone. Yet millions of women suffer from incontinence, which means you’re not alone. In fact, approximately 17% of adult women suffer from an overactive bladder and more than 12 million Americans deal with urge incontinence. And here’s the real eye-opening statistic: Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from urinary incontinence and an overactive bladder.
The bottom line is that you’re in very good company, and Dr. Donna J. Hagberg is here to help. Here at our gynecologic clinic, we help women in Cos Cob, Connecticut, negotiate every stage of their lives, dealing with the myriad issues that arise that are uniquely feminine. And when it comes to incontinence, we have a number of different ways we can help you tackle the problem.
Here’s a look at urinary incontinence, why it’s so common, and what we can do to help.
Women and incontinence
There are several reasons why women are twice as likely to suffer from incontinence, and it largely has to do with their reproductive health. First, pregnancy is a primary culprit behind urinary incontinence as a developing fetus begins to put pressure on your bladder. While this type of incontinence usually resolves itself after pregnancy, many women are left with lingering problems due to weakened tissue and damaged bladder nerves. In severe cases, your pelvic floor may collapse, causing organs like your bladder to shift.
The second most common offender is menopause and the loss of vaginal health as the female hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to decline. These hormones are charged with making sure your body is able to conceive, carry, and deliver a child into the world. When this stage of your life comes to an end, so do these hormone levels, leaving you with thinning vaginal tissue that may not be able to support your bladder as it once did. The drop in estrogen can also lead to a decline in the health of your bladder and urethra.
There are other issues that lead to incontinence, such as a hysterectomy (which can lead to prolapse) and age, but pregnancy and menopause account for the lion’s share of incontinence problems in women under the age of 65.
What we can do
Let’s rephrase this a little bit by starting out with what you can do. Incontinence often brings on embarrassment and shame, but we can’t help you if you don’t talk to us about it. As we mentioned above, you’re not alone, and all you need to do is ask for help.
If you’re having problems, we first run a series of tests, called urodynamics, to identify where the problem lies. Once we figure out what’s causing the incontinence, we can tackle the issue from several different angles.
To start, we recommend that you steer clear of things like caffeine and alcohol, which can irritate your bladder. We will also probably recommend pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, to strengthen the supportive tissue surrounding your bladder.
We’re also armed with a unique device that boosts vaginal health. Called the MonaLisa Touch®, it can deliver gentle fractional CO2 laser energy into your vaginal tissue to spur a collagen response, which works to strengthen your tissue. This can help with vaginal dryness, painful sex, and incontinence.
The MonaLisa Touch only takes three short treatments that last less than five minutes. We space the treatments out by several weeks to allow time for your body to respond, but by the end of your treatments, you should notice an appreciable improvement in your vaginal health, which may offset your incontinence.
If you’d like to free yourself from the prison of incontinence, please give us a call or use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.