Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects many women over the age of 65. Approximately 40 to 45% of women in this age group will experience some degree of this condition.
No one wants to experience incontinence issues, whether at home or out in public. At best, it can pose a slight distraction, and at worst, it can feel embarrassing and impede your quality of life.
If you are struggling with incontinence as a woman over 65, there are treatments available to you that could help you manage these issues so that you can live more comfortably. Today, we are going to explore what causes incontinence as well as when you should see a doctor and the types of treatments that might be available to help you.
First, let’s begin with what causes urinary incontinence.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence in Women Over 65?
There are two main causes of urinary incontinence. These include weak muscles in the urethra or a neurological concern where the brain is unable to properly send signals to the bladder. For some women, both factors may be present.
Some conditions that women over 65 may face that could result in urinary incontinence include:
Menopause can cause urinary incontinence due to the associated decrease in estrogen levels. This leads to less collagen production, which weakens the urethra and pelvic floor muscles. As a result, the bladder and urethral muscles become less supportive of holding urine, which can lead to problems from accidental leakage to frequent urges to urinate.
Did you know that a lack of exercise can increase your chances of suffering from involuntary urine leakage? As with menopause, inactivity can cause urinary incontinence in women due to the weakening of the pelvic muscles.
When we don’t put our bodies through regular physical activity, our muscles become weakened and unable to respond properly when needed, such as during a sneeze or sudden bursts of laughter. Strengthening these pelvic floor muscles is key for preventing episodes of incontinence.
There’s a strong connection between having a high body mass index (BMI) and the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. Unfortunately, when someone gains weight, this pressure can cause those delicate muscles to be strained, resulting in difficulty managing the bladder. In addition to that, excess body fat may make it harder for women to recognize sensations of fullness when the bladder is about to empty.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition that affects the pelvic organs and muscles in women. When the tissue surrounding these organs weakens, it can cause them to slip into the vagina or rectum, leading to urinary incontinence. Women suffering from POP may experience difficulty controlling their bladder, as well as urine leakage when they cough, sneeze, or stand up. They might also feel pressure in their abdomen or back and pelvic pain due to this condition.
In addition, there may be a visible bulge seen at the opening of the vagina. Although there is no cure for POP itself, treatments such as lifestyle changes and exercises can help to manage symptoms associated with the condition, including urinary incontinence.
When Should You See A Doctor?
If you are facing any of these issues listed above and are having trouble controlling urinary functions, see your doctor right away. A specialist like a urogynecologist will be able to help diagnose the cause of your incontinence and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
What Kind Of Treatments Are Available?
There are several treatment options available depending on the cause of your urinary incontinence. These can range from lifestyle changes, medications, physical therapy exercises, bladder training, and surgery.
Lifestyle changes such as avoiding foods or drinks that irritate your bladder can help reduce symptoms of incontinence, while medicating can also help relax bladder muscles for better control over urine flow. Physical therapy exercises strengthen pelvic floor muscles, and bladder training helps to retrain your bladder so you know when it’s time to urinate without feeling rushed or anxious about leakage accidents occurring in public places.
Surgery is typically reserved for severe cases where other treatments have been unsuccessful at controlling urinary incontinence symptoms effectively. Rarely is it recommended as the first solution.
Get Treatment for Urinary Incontinence in Idaho Falls
At OBGYN Associates of Idaho Falls, our team is dedicated to providing the most complete women’s healthcare services to residents of Idaho Falls and surrounding communities. If you are over the age of 65 and are experiencing any issues with regulating your body’s urinary functions, contact us today to request an appointment.