Many people experience bladder control problems (incontinence) and unfortunately many of these people feel that is just part of getting older. The good news is that you are not alone. This is a medical problem and nearly everyone can be helped. The following information should help you discuss this condition with your urologist and understand what treatments are available to you.
Bladder Control Problems
Incontinence is a condition that affects normal functioning of the bladder. Incontinence adversely affects a person’s quality of life. Urinary incontinence, frequency and urgency of urination and difficulties emptying the bladder can result when bladder control is lost. Urinary incontinence can increase with aging in both sexes but is NOT a normal part of growing older.
Causes Of Incontinence
Bladder control is regulated by interaction between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and organs of the lower urinary tract (bladder, urethra, pelvic floor muscles). A disease that involves any part of this system could affect bladder function. Patients with diseases such as Parkinson's Disease, strokes and multiple sclerosis, could have bladder control problems. In addition, injuries to the lower urinary tract and pelvic organs could potentially cause incontinence. Pregnancy and vaginal delivery are considered among the risk factors for incontinence. In women, sometimes extra weight can cause incontinence by putting extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. In men, prostate disorders, pelvic surgery, pelvic radiation and diabetes are major causes. However, most people with incontinence present with no clear symptoms of any neurological diseases or apparent injury to their lower urinary tract system.
Who Experiences Incontinence
Incontinence affects both men and women at all stages of life. In the earlier stages of life incontinence may be seen with congenital anomalies involving the nervous system or tissues of the pelvis and lower urinary tract. Bladder function relies on bladder training during the earlier stages of life. Improper or delayed toilet training may be a symptom of incontinence during the earlier stages of childhood or later in life.
Risk factors related to incontinence in women happen around the childbearing ages, when the process of pregnancy and a vaginal delivery can affect bladder control. However, this problem usually goes away in the majority of patients with incontinence during pregnancy or immediately after childbirth. The next series of events in life affecting incontinence are around the time of menopause for women, and enlargement of the prostate in the fifth and sixth decades of life in men. Enlargement of the prostate gland occurs in the majority of the men living in the western society and may affect bladder function. Menopause can also affect bladder function. The other independent event affecting bladder function is aging and the changes that occur within the tissues of the lower urinary tract and the bladder itself.
Given that the above risk factors could affect almost everyone living in the western society, it is estimated that up to 50 percent of women and 30 percent of men will have bladder control problems during their lifetime.
What Can Be Done For Incontinence?
Only a small number of patients with incontinence seek medical attention. It appears that most people view incontinence as tolerable and normal. Please consider talking with a urologist to learn about what treatment(s) may work best for you.
Do you urinate eight times or more during a 24 hour period?
Do you often have strong, sudden urges to urinate?
Do you have accidents before getting to the bathroom?
Do you get up two or more times at night to urinate?
Do you use pads because of leaking you don't notice?
Do you wear pads because you are not able to get to the bathroom in time?
Do you leak urine when you cough, laugh or lift something?
If you answer yes to two or more of these questions, please call UCPA.