A common cause of female incontinence, that occurs when pressure is put on the abdomen during activities such as laughing, exercising, sneezing and coughing. The sphincter muscles that support the bladder and urethra are weakened by these activities and are not able to prevent urine from flowing under pressure.
The urethra can become weakened due to the lack of oestrogen in women who have been through menopause.
During pregnancy and following childbirth it is very common for women to experience some degree of incontinence. Weakening can come from hormonal changes along with the extra weight and pressure of the baby during pregnancy. Other causes are prolonged second stage labour, the instruments used during the delivery and having a baby over 4kg in weight can all weaken the pelvic floor muscles during childbirth. It has been found that up to 30% of women who didn’t suffer from incontinence during pregnancy will experience some sort of bladder leakage after childbirth.
Menopause causes a loss of oestrogen levels that affect the urethras loss of tone and it’s closing pressure. The pelvic floor muscles become more elastic and may aggravate the existing muscle weakness due to the reduced oestrogen levels.
Causes of Stress Incontinence:
When pressure builds inside your bladder and the strength of your urethra is weakened and cannot stay closed. The bladder fills with urine causing a few drops or a full stream of urine to release involuntary. The causes of stress incontinence include:
• Overweight or obesity
• Pelvic floor muscles weakened or damaged
• Damage to the urethral sphincter the ring of muscle that keeps the urethra closed
• Smoking which can cause frequent or chronic coughing
• Urinary tract infection
• Excess consumption of caffeine or alcohol
• Genetic predisposition to pelvic floor weakness
A combination of treatment strategies can be recommended to reduce or even cure incontinence. If the person has an underlying issue such as a urinary tract infection this will be identified and treated to address these conditions that bought on the incontinence as a form of treatment.
It is recommended that the person take into consideration some behavioral therapies to eliminate or severely reduce the symptoms. It is recommended that you consider the following:
• Weight management is important and should be considered if you are over weight or obese. Loosing weight may take the pressure off your bladder and improve these symptoms.
• Drink 6 to 10 glasses of natural spring water. Unless your doctor advises otherwise.
• Quit smoking.
• Exercising your pelvic floor muscles daily to strengthen them. The urinary sphincter and your pelvic floor muscles will strengthen from performing kegel exercises.
• Bladder training should be attempted. This is where you hold onto your urine for a certain amount of time before going to the bathroom. See further details below.
• Scheduling your bathroom trips may be recommended. The more frequently you use the bathroom to urinate, may reduce the number of stress incontinence episodes.
• Avoid caffeinated coffee, fizzy or soft drinks and alcohol.
• Vaginal cones to help you identify the pelvic floor muscles.
• Post menopausal women may use oestrogen cream.
• Avoid constipation and treat it as it can make symptoms worse.
• Biofeedback reports to measure your pelvic floor muscles using a sensor.
• Electrical stimulation by sitting in a chair that produces pulsed magnetic fields to help the pelvic floor muscles contract and relax.
• Pessaries may be used to help re-position the bladder and urethra limiting the leakage of urine.
• Urethra injections can be injected into the tissue surrounding the urethra to tighten the seal of the urethra.
To train your bladder you must first wait for an urge to urinate, then hold your bladder for a certain period of time before going to the bathroom. It is recommended that you aim to wait for 15 minutes the first day before releasing and going to the bathroom to urinate. For the first 5 to 7 days try to stick to the 15 minute intervals before using the bathroom. As you progress over the next week increase the amount of time. This should be done until you have a decent amount of time between each bathroom visit.