Incontinence in Women

Women are four to five times more likely than men to have urinary incontinence problems, as it affects one out of every three women over the age of 45 and half of all women over age 65. Younger women have also been affected. Talking to your doctor early on can help you treat symptoms while they are still manageable.

Your physician will most likely perform a pelvic exam. Urine and blood test may be ordered. Most often, the cause of incontinence is weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support the vaginal (birth canal) wall, the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder) and the muscles of the rectum.

Weakness or irritation of these muscles are caused by:

  • Hormonal changes, menopause
  • Number of pregnancies, birth weights and deliveries (both vaginal and C-section)
  • Obesity
  • Chronic constipation
  • Bearing down with eliminations
  • Changes in medications
  • Certain foods and beverages

Other causes of incontinence can be explained by things such as:

  • Constipation and bowel problems
  • Nerve conditions that affect brain signals such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and diabetes
  • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Certain medications such as decongestants or antihistamines

More than 90 percent of women wait for over a year to seek help for incontinence. Most wish they had done it sooner. Don’t let embarrassment stand in the way of gaining a better quality of life.