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Urinary Incontinence is Nothing to be Embarrassed About

“Don’t make me laugh!” “I’m afraid to sneeze or cough.” “I can’t lift anything heavy.” 

If you have urinary stress incontinence (loss of bladder control), you’ve either made
these statements or thought them, and you are NOT alone! Urinary incontinence is very
common – it actually affects 1 in 2 women – and it is a sensitive subject we’re not
prone to talk about because it can be embarrassing. But it shouldn’t be.

Dont SneezeUrinary incontinence isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom that actually affects more women than high blood pressure (1 in 3), diabetes (1 in 10), or depression (1 in 20). And urinary incontinence affects women of all ages (even women in their 30s and 40s) because it is caused by a variety of conditions that stretch or weaken the pelvic floor muscles: pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, hysterectomies, lifting heavy objects, even having a job that requires standing for long periods of time.

Urinary stress incontinence occurs when the pelvic floor muscles weaken so they cannot support your bladder or control the release of urine, especially when certain types of physical activity (sneezing, coughing, bending, etc.) put extra pressure on your bladder.

Getting relief

Problems with loss of bladder control can often be relieved simply by making a few behavioral and physical changes. It does not mean that surgery is going to be required. According to Victor Grigoriev, M.D., board-certified urogynecologist (certified in both urology and in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery), many noninvasive treatment options are available.

Dr. Grigoriev-84Urogynecologists diagnose and treat pelvic floor disorders (a wide range of problems, including urinary incontinence, that occur when the pelvic floor muscles are weak), and pelvic organ prolapse, when organs such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum drop from their normal locations.

Dr. Grigoriev says those with overactive bladders can often find relief just by changing their diets. “Dietary changes can make a tremendous difference,” he says. “Avoiding things that irritate the bladder, regulating your amount of fluid intake, and increasing your dietary fiber are just a few ways you can help your overactive bladder.”

Strengthening the pelvic muscles can also help those who leak just a few drops of urine while sneezing, laughing, or coughing, or who have a strong, sudden urge to urinate or leak stool. Kegel exercises are the most commonly used. Learn more about Kegel exercises at lasvegasurogynecology.com.

Surgical options

Depending on what is causing the urinary incontinence, conservative measures such as behavioral or physical therapy may not work, so surgery can also be an option. While every woman’s problems differ and require individualized treatment approaches, many minimally invasive techniques are available today.

At St. Rose Dominican, Dr. Grigoriev, who began using the daVinci® Surgical System for other procedures approximately five years ago, is now using the system to correct pelvic floor disorders. The minimally invasive procedure is done using small incisions in the abdomen. “This robotically controlled procedure decreases the risk of infection and allows me to put the pelvic organs back into a more correct anatomical position while avoiding the use of vaginal mesh,” says Dr. Grigoriev. “Repositioning the organs takes the pressure off of the muscles, which relieves symptoms, and women typically recover within 1-2 weeks depending on the degree of their prolapse.”

How to train your bladder

  1. Keep a diary of fluid intake and urination – just the simple act of keeping a diary has been shown to decrease urinary frequency and incontinence by 40 percent
  2. Timed voiding – Use the restroom on a schedule (e.g., every two hours) before the urge occurs; this trains the bladder and decreases episodes of leakage
  3. Drink fluids in moderate amounts and slowly over the course of the day. Your bladder can accommodate more volume if it is filled slowly
  4. Work on constipation and regular bowel movements

Incontinence: Foods to avoid

Doctors have identified a number of foods and drinks that can worsen overactive bladders as they contain irritants that, when collected in the bladder, can cause the bladder muscles to spasm. Those spasms can create the sudden urge to urinate and increase your frequency of urination.

  • Tomato-based products
  • Coffee and tea
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Spicy foods
  • Raw onions
  • Cranberries

Incontinence: Foods to eat

Make your diet as simple as possible, says Dr. Grigoriev. “Very often, I have my patients start off with cream of wheat and baby food and then add foods back little by little to see what causes problems.” Constipation can cause or exacerbate an overactive bladder, so eat plenty of

  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Vegetables

Juices that won’t irritate your bladder include apple, grape, cherry, and cranberry juices. They also help by making urine more acidic, preventing the spread of bacteria and controlling urine odor. Drink plenty of water to hydrate your body.

If you are having problems with urinary incontinence, know that you’re not alone and that there are things you can do to relieve your symptoms. Talk with your doctor to learn about your options or find a St. Rose physician who treats urinary incontinence by calling 702.616.4900.

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