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Urology

Female Incontinence

Image: female urinary tractIncontinence in women usually occurs because of problems with bladder or urethral muscles that help to hold or release urine. There are a number of factors, ranging from childbirth to neurological injury, which can contribute to incontinence. While female incontinence occurs more often in older women than younger women, the good news is that it is treatable and curable at all ages. Women with female incontinence are seen at Virginia Mason's Seattle Main Campus. For more information about treatment for female incontinence, call (206) 223-6772. 

Unfortunately, some types of incontinence can worsen over time, making it more complicated to treat. That is why it is crucial that once you begin to experience involuntary loss of urine, you have your condition promptly evaluated. While your physician is the best source of information about your individual condition, below is a brief overview of three of the most common types of female incontinence.

Three common types of female urinary incontinence:

Stress Incontinence
If coughing, sneezing, or doing jumping jacks causes you to lose urine, you may have stress urinary incontinence (SUI), the most common type of female incontinence.

Pelvic floor muscles support your bladder. If these muscles are weakened by pregnancy or childbirth, your bladder can fall down or through the pelvic floor. This prevents muscles that normally close off the urethra from squeezing as tightly as they should, often leading to leakage. Lower estrogen levels following menopause can also weaken muscles and bring on SUI.

Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence, also known as "overactive bladder" is the sudden, uncontrollable urge to void, accompanied by leakage. This untimely bladder contraction can be triggered by everyday events such as hearing the sound of running water, changing position or grasping a cold doorknob, and can occur even when there is very little urine in the bladder.

Intrinsic Sphincteric Deficiency (ISD)
ISD is a weakness of the urethral sphincter muscle. Normally this muscle is contracted, keeping an individual dry. Depending on the severity of the weakness, the patient may experience a small amount of leakage with coughing or straining and, in severe cases, total incontinence can result. ISD can be related to a variety of factors, including aging, hormone changes, damage from previous surgery, diabetes mellitus or steroid use.

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