Urinary Incontinence in Women

Women of all ages, children as well as adults, may experience an uncontrolled loss of urine, called urinary incontinence. Weakness of the pelvic floor muscles which form a sling around the vagina (birth canal), the urethra (tube from the bladder) and the rectum may cause incontinence (leakage). Aging, pregnancy, childbirth, chronic constipation, and chronic coughing can weaken the pelvic floor muscles.

If you notice urine leaking when you cough, lift, sneeze or exercise, you may have the most common type of leakage called stress incontinence. If you feel a sudden and strong need to urinate and sometimes do not make it to the bathroom in time, you may have urge incontinence. A combination of both types of incontinence is called mixed incontinence.

Physical Therapy May Help

While incontinence is common, it is not normal and can be treated by a medical team approach, including a physical therapist. The therapist can evaluate your problem and help you manage the debilitating effects of urinary incontinence. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can prevent, decrease or even stop the leakage of urine altogether.

A suggested program may include:

  • instruction in strengthening exercises or “Kegels” for the weakened pelvic floor muscles
  • gentle electrical stimulation to help tighten the muscles and help the bladder to be less irritable
  • biofeedback training to help you learn to correctly tighten and relax the pelvic floor muscles

Other physical therapy suggestions that may help you in the future include:

  • designing a home exercise program to meet your needs
  • instructing you on correct lifting and moving techniques
  • teaching you how to keep a bladder diary and move toward normal voiding habits
  • suggesting foods to avoid which may be irritating to the bladder

If you think you may benefit from physical therapy to help you manage your urinary incontinence, ask your physician to refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in this treatment area. Health plans vary, so check your individual plan for coverage.

If you want to work toward a healthier lifestyle, you don’t have to do it alone. Simi Valley Hospital can help. Please call our us at (805) 955-6890 to find out about our free and low-cost health classes. We can also help you find a physician; just call Referral Services at (805) 955-6900.

Note: This is for information purposes only and not intended for use in place of the advice of a physician.