Ladies…do you pee when you sneeze?
It’s hard being a woman, right? Going to your primary care provider you learn about which screenings you need and when, which vaccinations should be updated, breast health, cholesterol, etc. But unless you bring it up, you are not usually screened for the common condition of urinary incontinence. Do you have problems with urine leakage? About one in every three women over the age of 45 do. Discuss urinary incontinence with your provider. It is common and can be distressing, but it is treatable with more than just damage-control pads for protection. Don’t be embarrassed, seek help.
There are two most common types of female incontinence. Stress incontinence is very common. This type involves an involuntary leakage of urine that happens when you cough, sneeze, laugh, run, or get up from a seated position. We have all been told that Kegels are good exercises to strengthen your muscles and although they can be, consulting with a urology provider can help you identify the therapies that will be most helpful to you.
Urge incontinence happens when you have a strong need to urinate and cannot reach a toilet in time. This can trigger urine leakage in public which can lead to embarrassment and social isolation.
The female pelvic floor consists of muscles that work like a hammock to support the pelvic organs including the uterus, bladder and rectum. Sometimes those muscles suffer nerve damage or are weak in nature. Weakened or damaged pelvic muscles and tissue can be the result of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth, aging, genetics, diabetes, spinal cord problems, smoking and/or obesity among other things.
“Women feel more comfortable talking to women about intimate things or conditions they consider to be embarrassing,” says Anne Remington, the nurse practitioner who joined the HCMC Urology Department last year. The Urology Clinic has seen female visits increase with the addition of Remington to the urology team, which includes Dr. Cynthia Fok, a physician who is fellowship-trained in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. “We consider it a privilege to help women restore their confidence by managing their incontinence,” adds Remington.
Your provider may identify specific physical therapy, medications, or even surgical procedures to treat incontinence. HCMC has physical therapists who are trained in this specialty through the American Physical Therapy Association Section on Women’s Health. Don’t stay at home because you’re worried about having an accident. Get your confidence back. Talk to your primary care provider or see a specialist in urology. You are not alone.
Anne Remington, MSN, APRN, CNP, CURN is a nurse practitioner specializing in urology. She provides general urology care with an emphasis on caring for women living with urinary leakage/incontinence and other pelvic health conditions. She is a board-certified urology registered nurse with extensive experience in outpatient urology care. Anne sees patients at our Urology Clinic.