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Many women, especially the ones who’ve had babies, assume that bladder control issues are an inevitable part of aging. Just make sure you avoid the trampoline and cross your legs before you sneeze, right?
Not the case, according to Certified Urological Nurse Practitioner at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Rikka Burroughs. “When the symptoms of incontinence become bothersome and interfere with daily activities and self-confidence, then it’s time to see a medical provider. There are treatments available that can make a huge difference.”
Stress incontinence, or the occasional leak experienced when sneezing, laughing or jumping up and down, can be caused by weak pelvic floor muscles; trauma to nerves and surrounding tissues from childbirth, other trauma or pelvic surgery; obesity; and age.
Treatments include non-surgical and surgical therapies such as pelvic floor physical therapy and bladder suspension. Pelvic floor physical therapy is more than just performing Kegel exercises. It is rehabilitation of the abdominal core muscles, the muscles of the pelvic floor, and those around the urinary sphincter. Pelvic physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts in the areas associated with the pelvis, including the vulva and vagina, the colorectal regions, and the urinary sphincter.
Urge incontinence, which is a sudden bladder contraction or spasm resulting in immediate loss of urine, is a symptom of a common condition called Overactive Bladder. “Overactive Bladder is actually a group of many symptoms,” Burroughs said. “Those include urgency, frequency of eight times or more in 24 hours, getting up two or more times a night to urinate, and urge incontinence.”
Overactive bladder symptoms are not a normal part of aging, but are common. Seek medical care when the symptoms become bothersome and affect quality of life. Your doctor will likely recommend behavioral therapies, such as timed voiding, fluid modifications and avoidance of bladder irritants (citrus, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, spicy foods).
If those initial modifications don’t help, there are medications, devices and surgical interventions that can help curb symptoms.
You can have your symptoms evaluated at PCI Urology by highly trained experts who specialize in female urology. Call (319) 363-8171 for an appointment. Referrals not needed unless required by your insurance.