Women often experience urinary problems as they age. They are frequently accepted as a reality – something you just have to live with. Women may be uncomfortable talking about their urological symptoms or don’t know that they have treatment options. In many cases, common conditions that affect your quality of life can be treated successfully.

Here are some of the most common urologic conditions that affect women.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is estimated to affect 1 in 4 women. It’s a common symptom, but many women are too embarrassed to talk to their doctor about it. Diagnosing and treating the underlying cause can often improve their quality of life.

Symptoms:

  • Loss of bladder control
  • Uncontrollable leaking of urine

Causes:

For some, incontinence is caused by temporary issues and will stop when the issue is resolved. For others, it’s a symptom of a chronic condition and will be a long-term issue.

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Medications
  • Weakened muscles due to aging
  • Pregnancy, childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic floor disorders
  • Temporary health conditions (constipation, some medications)
  • Chronic conditions (stroke, diabetes, multiple sclerosis)

Types of incontinence:

Urge incontinence is characterized by an intense and sudden need to urinate immediately. The urge is often so intense that you can’t make it to the toilet in time. It can be caused by an overactive bladder (OAB).

Stress incontinence is leaking during activities that put pressure on your bladder, like coughing, jumping, and lifting heavy objects. You have a higher risk of experiencing stress incontinence if you have given birth.

Overflow incontinence happens when you don’t completely empty your bladder when urinating. Urine that is left in the bladder may leak out with movement. It is often caused by chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS).

Mixed incontinence is a combination of types.

 

Overactive bladder (OAB)

OAB causes an urgent, frequent need to urinate day and night. The constant need to urinate can be very disruptive to your daily life. OAB can often be managed with behavioral strategies like bladder training.

Symptoms:

  • Frequent, urgent need to urinate
  • Nocturia (waking in the night to urinate)
  • Incontinence

Causes:

  • Nerve damage
  • Weakened muscles
  • Medications
  • Caffeine, alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Infection
  • Estrogen deficiency due to menopause

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

A UTI can affect any part of the urinary system but most commonly affects the bladder. They are usually treated successfully with antibiotics. If left untreated, however, a UTI can lead to a kidney infection. In older adults, a UTI can very quickly lead to confusion and mental changes.

Symptoms:

  • Painful urination
  • Urine that is cloudy and foul-smelling
  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate
  • Pain and burning with urination
  • Incontinence
  • Blood in urine
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Mental changes or confusion

Causes:

  • Bacteria from outside the body
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder may contribute
  • Diabetes

Pelvic organ prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition where the muscles and tissues supporting the pelvic organs become weakened or damaged and can’t properly support the organs like they used to. This can allow the organs to shift out of position, where they can drop or press into or out of the vagina.

Symptoms:

  • Feeling or seeing a bulge in the vagina
  • Pressure, fullness, discomfort in the pelvis
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty having a bowel movement
  • Pain while sitting

Causes:

  • Injury to pelvic floor muscles during childbirth
  • Long-term abdominal pressure (obesity, chronic cough)
  • Family history
  • Menopause (loss of estrogen raises the risk)
  • Aging

Pelvic floor dysfunction

The pelvic floor muscles help support the pelvic organs, including the bladder. Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when those muscles can’t properly coordinate to urinate. They tighten, but don’t relax properly to release urine or have a bowel movement.

Symptoms:

  • Painful, frequent urination
  • Stopping and starting urination
  • Painful intercourse
  • Incontinence
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the pelvic area

Causes:

  • Trauma to the pelvic area, pelvic surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Overuse of pelvic muscles (pushing too hard to go)
  • Obesity
  • Age

Talking about urology symptoms can make you feel uncomfortable, but many conditions are common and treatable. Living with the symptoms can affect your quality of life and cause discomfort. Worry about leaking, discomfort, or finding the nearest bathroom can disrupt your social life and day-to-day activities.

Don’t let urologic symptoms disrupt your life any longer – schedule an appointment today!

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