Ladies: You Should Talk About Urinary Incontinence
So there you are in your primary care doctor’s office getting your yearly physical. The evaluation is coming to a close and your doctor says, “Is there something else that you would like to talk about?" You hesitate, think about it, squeeze your legs tighter, reply “No, doctor, that will be all,” and then you run to the ladies room, getting there hopefully just in the nick of timeDid you forget to mention to your doctor that you suffer from urinary incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine? Many women neglect to tell their physician that they suffer from this problem. Many women are embarrassed by the fact that they leak urine, and many physicians fail to ask these questions, despite incentives from Medicare to do so.
Most importantly, patients should realize that there is no need to be embarrassed by this condition. A study from the Netherlands found that nearly a third of women over the age of 55 have involuntary urine loss. The good news is that there is no reason to stay silent about this problem. Many think that it is something that you have to live and suffer with, and that there aren’t any successful treatments for this problem.
Actually, numerous options are available for patients. First, an evaluation needs to be undertaken to be certain that something serious is not being missed. After excluding some of them, things as simple as behavioral modification can be effective for some forms of incontinence. The amount, type and timing of fluids that are taken can be a cause of incontinence. Physical therapy also can be beneficial, and can include biofeedback, bladder retraining or pelvic floor exercises.
Different types of incontinence exist, such as urge incontinence and stress incontinence. Urge incontinence exists when patients just don’t make it to the bathroom in time and begin to leak while getting there. Patients who suffer from urge incontinence may benefit from various medications that are both prescription or over the counter. These medications are highly effective.
For patients with stress incontinence, surgical correction is a possibility. Minimally invasive outpatient procedures can be performed. These procedures are very well tolerated, are performed as an outpatient, require minimal downtime, and are highly effective.
The next time you are sitting in the doctor’s office, if you are concerned about the tinkle down your leg, or if your doctor hasn’t already begun discussing this with you, speak up. Help is certainly on the way!
Jay Motola, MD, is a board-certified urologist and attending physician, Department of Urology, Mount Sinai West, and Assistant Professor of Urology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Motola is a summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Boston University, and earned his medical degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.