The 4 Types of Urinary Incontinence and How They Are Diagnosed

Urinary Incontinence, Diagnosed, Virtuosa GYN

If you’ve ever leaked urine or had trouble getting to the bathroom quickly enough, you’re not alone. Almost half of all women leak urine at some point in their lives — a condition known as urinary incontinence.

Urinary incontinence can be frustrating and embarrassing. Fortunately, treatment can make a difference. At Virtuosa GYN in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Susan Crockett offers patients with urinary incontinence a full range of treatment options, from lifestyle changes and exercise to medication and surgery.

To give you a better understanding of your condition, Dr. Crockett offers the following information about the main types of urinary incontinence, along with details about what causes them and how they are diagnosed and treated.

Who develops incontinence?

Women are far more likely than men to have urinary incontinence. You are likely to develop it during or after pregnancy, when hormonal changes and pressure in your pelvic area interfere with your bladder’s ability to work well.

You may also have trouble with urinary incontinence later in life. The hormonal changes of menopause and age-related weakening of the pelvic floor muscles can impact your bladder. And having health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and chronic constipation can also increase your odds of having incontinence.

There are four main types of urinary incontinence.

1. Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when activity or movement causes you to leak urine. For example, actions such as coughing, laughing, and sneezing can put pressure on your bladder, allowing it to release urine. Stress incontinence can also happen when you engage in physical activity such as running, dancing, bending, lifting, or even walking.

Weak pelvic floor muscles typically contribute to stress incontinence. These are the muscles that support the organs of your pelvis (uterus, bladder, and bowel).

2. Overactive bladder

Also known as “urgency incontinence,” overactive bladder occurs when you have a strong urge to pee but can’t get to a toilet in time. This is typically caused by problems related to the nerves and muscles in your bladder.

3. Mixed incontinence

Mixed incontinence is exactly what it sounds like: a mixture of two or more types of incontinence. Most often, women with mixed incontinence experience both stress incontinence and overactive bladder.

4. Overflow incontinence

If you have overflow incontinence, your bladder doesn’t empty completely when you go to the bathroom. As a result, your bladder soon becomes full again, which can lead to leaking between bathroom breaks.

Diagnosing incontinence

If you are leaking urine or if you sometimes can’t get to the toilet fast enough, Dr. Crockett can work with you to determine the cause of your incontinence as well as the most effective treatment for it.

During your appointment, Dr. Crockett begins by talking with you about your medical history, symptoms, and lifestyle choices. She also reviews your medications, because some drugs can contribute to incontinence.

Dr. Crockett may order diagnostic testing such as lab tests, imaging tests, or bladder function tests to learn more about your condition. Specialized bladder tests include cystograms, cystoscopy, pelvic ultrasound, and urodynamic testing.

Treating incontinence

Once Dr. Crockett understands the causes of your incontinence, she talks with you about your personalized treatment plan.

For many women, simple exercises known as Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles enough to reverse incontinence. Dr. Crockett may also recommend weight loss, physical activity, quitting smoking, eating more fiber to reduce constipation, or a scheduled urination plan known as bladder training.

When these simple measures don’t go far enough, Dr. Crockett may recommend medication or the use of pessaries, which are rigid silicone devices inserted into your vagina to support muscles and any prolapsed pelvic organs.

If you have incontinence, there’s no need to suffer in silence. Call Virtuosa GYN or schedule an appointment today.

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