Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence in women, although it is also known to affect men. It occurs when the urethra, the pass through which the urine is passed out of the bladder cannot holdback the pressure. It occurs when pressure is exerted in the bladder such that it is unable to hold off the urine. There are a number of things which can trigger the leakage of urine, when you cough, the pressure exerted on a weakened pelvic floor muscles may lead to involuntary flow of urine. Sneezing laughing or when one tries to stand from a sitting position can also trigger leakages. Engaging in some physical activities has also been noted as one of the factors that trigger this condition. This is normally the case when the type of activities in question lead to increased pressure in the bladder, when it is excessive, there might be some leakages.
What Causes Stress Incontinence?
Movements and activities which increase abdominal pressure and subsequent bladder interference are known to be the main cause of this type if urine incontinence. There are a number of factors that contribute to this condition, for example, when the muscles at the pelvic floor region are weakened or the sphincter muscles become damaged. A major problem in relation to the way the muscle open and close can also trigger the loss of control.
In women, the physical changes in their bodies are major contributors to this condition. During pregnancy, the woman’s tummy increases in size as the foetus grow. The bulging of the tummy puts some pressure on the bladder , weakening the muscles around this area, this change affects the way the sphincter muscles opens and closes, it leads to loss of control eventually causing the leakage of urine.
During childbirth women are prone to some damages around the birth canal, this mostly happens when the passage is infected or in a situation where the head of the infant is bigger than the birth canal. This leads to overstretching of the muscles and eventually damaging the nerves around this area. Prolonged labour has also been mentioned as a culprit in this. When a problem is noticed early enough it, women are always advised to undergo the caesarean section.
Hormonal imbalance as a result of menopause is also a trigger to this condition. There are some types of surgeries which can trigger stress incontinence. A surgery which involves the removal of womb has been noted as one of the trigger factors. Other causes include the infection which affects the muscles in the bladder, when these muscles are weakened their capacity to hold urine is reduced or diminished leading to problems of leakages.
Basically stress incontinence is as a result of weakened pelvic muscles, this leads to the drop down of the bladder, this movement affects the urethra preventing it from closing, this eventually results to leakages.
The Symptoms Associated with Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence has one main symptom, leakage of urine when involved in some physical activity. The activities which are linked with urine leakage involve coughing, laughing, engaging in exercise or lifting of objects. At times, the leakage may be minor such that one might not notice. In other instances, it might be a major leakage which causes embarrassment. The leakage may also be for a short time or chronic. When the factors which trigger this condition are eliminated the individual will be back to normal. In a situation where this has been caused by a chronic condition, this might continue for long or keep on recurring. This can lead to psychological stress since urine leakages are embarrassing, it can force someone to avoid being in public as the leakage may occur anytime.
Treatment of Stress Incontinence
The mild stress incontinence can be treated at home while the chronic type should be managed at hospitals. When it comes to its home care managements, medication and exercises can assist in alleviating the problem. Hospital management involves undergoing surgery or being injected to help in increasing the size of urethra lining.
It is important to see a doctor first before starting any treatment course, this is more so when it comes to home care management. The kind of self help techniques that will be used are mainly what the doctor will prescribe. It is also important to get some information or knowledge about the condition. Some of the symptoms which are seen in this condition might just pass as normal leading to a situation where one ignores until such a time when the problem escalates. When the cause of this condition is known its management will be easy.
One of the exercises which is prescribed for this condition is the pelvic floor exercise, they are also known as kegel exercises, they help in maintaining the muscles which support the bladder. Through strengthening the muscles one can prevent or reduce the leakage of urine. These exercises involve stretching the muscles and joints around this area, trying to hold back and contracting the pelvis muscles, this should be followed by relaxation until such a time when the bladder is able to sustain the pressure which may lead to leakage. These are the same exercises which are prescribed to men who have a problem of early ejaculation; they are aimed at sustaining pressure and strengthening the muscles around the pelvic region.
When the exercises fail to solve the problem one can resort to medication, it is always advisable to try conservative treatment first before turning to use of drugs. It is also prudent to try and avoid those triggers that offend the bladder and lead to leakages. If you find that a certain food causes the urine to leak it is advisable to avoid it. The same applies to consumption of alcohol as well as smoking, these habits have been noted for the role they play in exacerbating this condition, therefore avoiding them can help in alleviating the problem. The medication which is prescribed for this condition is a drug known as dulexetine. Remember this course of treatment should only be used when others have failed, it should not be the first course of treatment, this is due to the fact that the drug may have some side effects especially when taken for a long time. This may lead to other health issues, some of which might not be reversible.
Injections have also been identified as treatment course of this condition; it involves introducing bulking agents into the lining of the urethra. These substances increase the size and improve the mechanism of closing the neck of the bladder. Collagen is one of the agents that are used in this treatment. If the method is successful, the patient will have to undergo period injection as long as it will be necessary.
Surgery is also prescribed if all the other methods do not give the desired results. Normally there are different types of surgeries which are designed to help the bladder to treat this problem.
Some of the Operations which are prescribed include:
Colposuspension: This is a procedure that involves making of an incision in the abdomen, the surgeon then attaches the bladder to a cartilage right behind the pubic bone using sutures.
Tape procedure: This involves inserting a piece of tape through the vagina and threading it behind the urethra to offer support.
Sling procedure: This procedure involves the surgeon using a sling which is made of natural or synthetic tissues. The sling goes towards supporting the neck of the bladder, it may be attached right at the pubic bone or just have two sutures which are loosely attached together.
Artificial sphincters are mostly used in men but they can also be appropriate when it comes to treating women. The procedure involves implanting a fluid-filled cuff in the urethra area in such a way that it can be easily opened or closed by the patient. The fluid filled cuff serves as a regulator which is used to contain the urine subsequently preventing it from leaking.
These procedures are effective in treating the stress urinary incontinence; it is also worth noting that there are some side effects which may be associated with this treatment cause. The condition may worsen despite the surgery or it may continue. There are also some reported cases where a patient has been unable to pass urine after undergoing surgery.
Treatment of stress urinary incontinence will mainly depend on the condition of the patient, there are some situation where one is only advice to change lifestyle, other cases may need medication of injection or even surgery. It is important that one follows the full treatment cause to ensure that the problem is alleviated.
Find more information on stress incontinence