Do you avoid laughing, stifle your coughs, or hesitate to lift heavy objects in fear of leaks? If so, you might be one of the millions suffering from stress incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is an extremely common condition (and we aren’t just saying that—studies show that more than 60% of women in the US experience some form of urinary incontinence). Although it’s common to experience urinary incontinence, it isn’t a “normal” part of aging or of being a woman. Stress incontinence is not something you have to live with forever.
You deserve to live a life where the fear of leaks doesn’t hold you back. Amy Brenner, MD & Associates is a leader in women’s health, and we are here to help you achieve that worry-free life. As one of the top-rated gynecology and wellness clinics in Cincinnati, we are passionate about helping women feel their best with advanced technologies and customized treatment plans tailored to your needs.
So if you’re ready to kick stress incontinence to the curb, schedule a consultation with our gynecologist in Kenwood today to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. Or, keep reading to learn more about this condition and the treatments that can help!
What Is Stress Incontinence? (And Why You Might Have It)
Stress incontinence (SUI) is the most common type of urinary incontinence. This condition causes unintentional urine leakage during movements or activities that put pressure on the bladder.
Some common signs that you may have stress incontinence include:
- Leaking during physical activity
- Leaking when you laugh, cough, or sneeze
- Leaking when you stand up from sitting or lying down
- Leaking during sex
- Making frequent trips to the bathroom to avoid potential leaks
Anatomy of Stress Incontinence
To better understand why you might experience leaks, we first need to review the muscles and structures affected by urinary incontinence.
The bladder is often the first structure most people think of when they hear about urinary incontinence. However, the bladder is just one piece of the puzzle. This hollow organ that stores urine works together with the urethra and pelvic floor muscles to maintain continence.
The urethra is a tube that runs from the bladder to the external part of the body. This important structure is responsible for transporting urine out of the body.
The Urethral Sphincter
The urethral sphincter is the group of muscles that surround the urethra. These muscles act as a valve to control the flow of urine.
The Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic floor muscles form a hammock-like structure at the base of your pelvis to support the urethra, bladder, and other pelvic organs.
Why Leaks Happen
When it comes to stress urinary incontinence, most leaks are the result of weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles help support the bladder, urethra, and ensure complete closure of the urethral sphincter.
When the pelvic floor muscles don’t work properly, any extra pressure on the bladder (like that from coughing or lifting) can make it difficult for these muscles to hold the urine in.
Why You Might Have Stress Incontinence
So now that you understand what happens in the body to cause stress incontinence, you’re probably wondering why you have weak pelvic floor muscles in the first place. To determine the exact cause of your SUI, it is necessary to have a consultation with your gynecologist in Kenwood to discuss your specific symptoms and medical history.
Some of the most common reasons people experience weakened pelvic floor muscles (and thus experience stress urinary incontinence) include:
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Approximately 50% of pregnant women experience bladder control problems during pregnancy. This is most common during the later stages of pregnancy when the fetus is heaviest and puts the most pressure on the bladder.
Unfortunately, urinary incontinence often persists or gets worse after delivery (especially after a vaginal birth). Pregnancy and childbirth cause the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding tissues to stretch and weaken over time.
As we age, our body goes through a lot of changes, both internal and external. If you’ve noticed changes to your muscle tone and strength, the same changes are also happening inside your body. Over time, this weakening of the pelvic floor muscles makes them less effective in supporting the bladder and urethra.
Carrying extra weight puts added pressure on the muscles of the pelvis. This increased pressure tends to strain and eventually weaken the muscles of the pelvic floor and urethral structures.
Unfortunately, sometimes genetics can predispose you to weak pelvic floor muscles. If your mother or grandmother experienced stress urinary incontinence, you have a higher risk of experiencing the condition too.
At-Home Treatments & Lifestyle Modifications
If you have occasional or mild stress urinary incontinence that isn’t interfering too much with your life, your gynecologist in Kenwood may recommend some at-home treatments and lifestyle modifications to try, such as:
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises (also called Kegels) can help strengthen these important muscles to allow better control over urinary incontinence. While Kegels can be an effective treatment, it is not a fast or easy solution. It will take time to build up muscles and notice a change in your symptoms.
Because extra weight can contribute to stress incontinence, managing your weight can be an effective way to reduce the bothersome symptoms of stress incontinence. If you need help losing weight, our team at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates has comprehensive weight loss programs with supplements, peptides, and medications to help you reach your weight loss goals.
If you need ways to manage your symptoms while you pursue a longer-term treatment, there are a few ways to help prevent leaks. One is to have a consistent bathroom schedule. Even if you don’t feel like you have to go, emptying your bladder regularly can help reduce the number of leaks.
Another strategy to manage symptoms is to moderate your fluid intake before activities that trigger your stress incontinence. However, this can be tricky because it is important to stay hydrated. Reducing fluid intake too much and suffering from dehydration will cause its own set of unwanted symptoms.
Treatments for Stress Incontinence
If stress incontinence is interfering with your life, it’s important to see a medical provider to discuss your treatment options. At Amy Brenner, MD & Associates, we offer a wide range of treatments to help put an end to your stress incontinence.
Non-surgical treatments for urinary incontinence offer minimally invasive solutions that don’t require extensive downtime.
The O-Shot is an injectable treatment of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) taken from your own blood. When we inject this into the treatment area, it promotes new tissue growth to support the bladder and urethra, giving you more control over incontinence.
Along with improving symptoms of urinary incontinence, the O-Shot offers a range of sexual wellness benefits, including:
- Stronger and more frequent orgasms
- Increased libido
- Increased lubrication
- A rejuvenated appearance of the vulva
- Decreased pain during intercourse
Votiva is a radiofrequency-based treatment that treats stress incontinence and female sexual dysfunction. It works by gently heating the vaginal and vulvar tissue to promote new collagen and elastin formation. Over time, this strengthens the tissues that support your pelvic floor muscles.
Along with improved bladder control, Votiva also offers the following sexual wellness benefits:
- Tighter vaginal canal and rejuvenated vulva
- Increased sexual gratification
- Increased lubrication
Femilift® is a treatment that uses CO2 laser technology to stimulate collagen formation and remodel tissue. Making this tissue stronger helps support the base of the bladder to reduce leaks. If you’re looking for drastic results, you can combine this treatment with the O-Shot.
Femilift can offer more control over urinary incontinence, in addition to:
- Improved lubrication
- Improved vaginal tone and elasticity
- Decreased pain during intercourse
Unfortunately, there are no medications for stress incontinence, but we can prescribe medications for urge incontinence. If you are unsure what type of incontinence you have, please reach out to our team to schedule an appointment.
Bladder Sling Surgery
If non-surgical treatments don’t work to treat your stress incontinence, your gynecologist in Kenwood may recommend that you explore surgical options. During a bladder sling surgery, we use a synthetic mesh to create a sling (similar to a hammock) that supports the urethra. This helps it stay closed, even when there is increased pressure on the bladder.
The choice to pursue any surgery is a big decision. If you decide to explore this option, we will ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment.
Visit Amy Brenner, MD & Associates to Visit a Gynecologist in Kenwood
Patients visit us from all over the country for expert, transformative wellness services. We offer a friendly environment and provide the highest-quality treatments and wellness plans to help you feel your best.
Conveniently located in Mason, OH, we serve patients from Cincinnati, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Blue Ash, Beckett Ridge, and other surrounding areas.