Incontinence can cause embarrassment and discomfort, but there are effective ways of treating it. At Chicago Center for Women's Health, Denise Furlong, MD uses state-of-the-art techniques to diagnose and treat the causes of incontinence in women from throughout the Chicago, IL, area.
Urinary incontinence can occur for different reasons, including diseases and disorders of the nervous system, infections, hormonal changes and issues that affect the pelvic floor, which is composed of muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus and other structures. Gaining a significant amount of weight, delivering babies vaginally and even being pregnant can put extra strain on the pelvic floor, causing the bladder muscles to weaken.
Urinary incontinence can be divided into three primary types:
Stress incontinence causes bladder leakage to occur in response to pressure or stress on the pelvic floor. People with this type of incontinence experience leakage when sneezing or laughing or during periods of exercise or physical activity. Stress incontinence occurs when the pelvic floor becomes weak or damaged, becoming much more common with age.
Urge incontinence, or overactive bladder, occurs when the bladder signals the need to urinate over and over again, even when there is very little urine in the bladder. People with this type of incontinence must use the bathroom frequently, even waking from sleep to urinate.
Mixed incontinence includes symptoms of both stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
There are several tests that can be used to diagnose the cause of urinary incontinence, including tests to measure the flow of urine and the amount of urine expelled by the bladder during urination to assess how well the bladder and the pelvic floor are functioning. Other tests use a tiny scope to look inside the bladder, and in some cases, diagnostic imaging or nerve testing may also be used. The type of testing used will be determined by the symptoms that are occurring as well as other factors. Once the cause has been determined, a treatment plan can be developed based on that cause.
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