You avoid watching comedies with your friends because you’re afraid of accidental urination. You wear adult diapers when you run so you don’t leak through your shorts. You don’t skip rope or do jumping jacks at the gym. You’re afraid of coughing or sneezing at work and having an accident. Does any of this sound like you? If it does, you may suffer from stress incontinence. At Dr. Chicago in Chicago, IL, we want you to know you’re not alone. This medical condition is incredibly common and highly treatable.
What Is Stress Incontinence?
Stress incontinence, also known as stress urinary incontinence, is a medical condition characterized by the inability to control urination. Symptoms may include a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate, small leaks or large leaks. The most important thing to understand about this condition is it refers to physical stress on the bladder rather than any sort of emotional stress.
Who Suffers From SUI?
According to the NIDDK, or National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, women are twice as likely to suffer from stress urinary incontinence than men. This is because the leading cause of the condition is multiple vaginal deliveries. However, pregnancy involving delivery via Caesarean section can also cause stress urinary incontinence. This is because pregnancy can weaken or stretch out the sphincter and pelvic muscles.
Other people who suffer from SUI include the elderly, people with a medical condition that causes a chronic cough and women the week before menstruation. A drop in estrogen during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle can cause the urethra to weaken.
Is It the Same As Overactive Bladder Syndrome?
Stress urinary incontinence is a completely separate condition from overactive bladder syndrome, or OA. If you suffer from both of these conditions together, you have what is called mixed incontinence. A physician can diagnose whether you have SI, OA or both.
Do I Have Stress Urinary Incontinence?
If you leak urine when lifting heavy weights, engaging in sexual intercourse, coughing, sneezing or laughing, you may have stress urinary incontinence. The only way to know for sure is to come in for a diagnostic appointment. During this appointment, we will evaluate several factors, including:
- Medical history
- Urine sample
- Physical exam
- Neurological exam
- Urinary stress test
Urodynamic tests evaluate the function of your bladder and aren’t really necessary in most cases of urinary incontinence. Here are some bladder tests we may run:
Measurements of Post-Void Residual Urine
Most of our older clients receive measurements of post-void residual urine. This tests your bladder efficiency and indicates if you are physically capable of emptying your bladder completely. The inability to empty your bladder completely is of particular concern if you suffer from diabetes or have previously received bladder surgery.
To measure residual urine after urination, we will pass a catheter through your urethra into your bladder. The catheter drains any remaining urine so we can measure it. Alternatively, you may receive an ultrasound scan, which converts sound waves into an image of your bladder’s contents.
Measuring Bladder Pressures
Cystometry refers to the measurement of pressure in your bladder and the surrounding region while your bladder is filling. This diagnostic test may be necessary if you have a neurologic disease related to your spinal cord.
To evaluate bladder region pressure, your bladder will be filled slowly with warm fluid. To diagnose stress incontinence, we will test your bladder for any leakage. When combined with a pressure-flow study, we can determine how much pressure your bladder needs to produce to empty completely.
Ultrasounds aren’t the only way to get diagnostic imaging for stress urinary incontinence. Video urodynamics can create pictures of your bladder both while it’s filling and emptying. This is achieved by mixing warm fluid with a dye that is visible to X-rays. Your bladder is gradually filled via catheter while X-ray images are recorded. Once your bladder has reached maximum capacity, the X-ray machine will take images of your bladder as you urinate.
Cystoscopy refers to a visual inspection of the bladder and urethra via a scope inserted into the bladder.
What Causes It?
There are several risk factors for developing SI. These include:
- Regular high-impact activities
- Hormonal imbalances
- Caffeine or alcohol overuse
- Conditions which cause chronic cough
Common Causes of Stress Urinary Incontinence in Men
Men may develop stress urinary incontinence for many of the same reasons as women. These include obesity, lung disorders and alcohol overuse. However, one of the most common causes of stress urinary incontinence in men is prostate removal.
The prostate gland surrounds and supports the urethra. Its removal leads to a drastically weakened urethra that even pelvic floor exercises cannot fix. Similarly, corrective surgery after a traumatic pelvic injury can significantly weaken the male urethra.
How Can I Treat It?
There are several potentially effective treatment options for stress incontinence. The right one for you will depend on the cause and severity of your unique case. For example, if your case is mild-to-moderate, a simple change in diet may be enough to protect your muscles and nerve function. Make sure you’re getting the recommended daily amount of potassium, magnesium, MSM and all B vitamins. But a simple change in diet may not be enough to treat your condition. Here are a few things you can do to eliminate your symptoms permanently.
Vaginal rejuvenation is one of the most effective stress incontinence solutions for women. There are several vaginal rejuvenation options ranging from non-invasive to moderately invasive. What they all have in common is they restore the functionality of the vagina, revitalize the tissue and address cosmetic concerns.
Non-invasive vaginal rejuvenation options include specialized laser therapy that stimulates your body’s natural collagen growth. Among other things, this rejuvenates and tightens the skin and improves the performance of the vagina.
Moderately Invasive Options
Moderately invasive vaginal rejuvenation options include such procedures as labiaplasty. Labiaplasty sculpts the labio minora and reduces the frequency and severity of incontinence, among other benefits.
Medical Weight Loss
Excess weight in the lower abdomen is one of the most common causes of stress urinary incontinence. If you can’t lose weight on your own, seek medical weight loss services. A trained medical professional can assess your current physical condition to create a safe, realistic diet and exercise plan.
Medical weight loss services allow you to receive a customized weight loss plan, HCG injections, hormone therapy and more. Abdominal weight loss results in less constant stress on the bladder.
HCG Injections for Weight Loss
HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone most strongly associated with pregnancy. It is the hormone detected by at-home pregnancy tests to identify whether a woman is with child or not. However, this “pregnancy hormone” works wonders for both men and women.
Among its effects on the body, it revs your metabolism and controls your appetite so you can go on a VLCD (very low-calorie diet). However, it’s tricky to get adequate nutrients when you’re on a very low-calorie diet. Such diets should be supervised by a medical professional to monitor your blood pressure, blood glucose levels, cholesterol and other vital signs. Contact us today to learn how we can help you lose weight safely and effectively.
Maybe you started your weight loss journey obese. You now have a BMI in the overweight or healthy weight range. But there’s still too much fatty tissue around your abdomen. Liposuction can safely remove up to five liters (11 pounds) of fat from your abdomen, reducing bladder stress in just one to three hours.
Pelvic Floor Reconstruction
Your pelvic floor is responsible for supporting several essential organs. These include your vagina, uterus, bladder and rectum. Prolapses refer to the weakening of the pelvic muscles resulting in these organs dropping below their ideal positions. Among the side effects are pain, discomfort, urinary incontinence and bowel incontinence.
Types of Pelvic Floor Reconstruction
There are several types of pelvic floor reconstruction. In women, two of the most common are sacrocolpopexy to treat vaginal prolapse and acrocolpopexy to treat vaginal prolapse in women without a uterus. If you’re done growing your family, a hysterectomy may also be used to treat uterine prolapse.
In men with bladder incontinence, the most common pelvic floor reconstruction is anterior or cystocele prolapse surgery which repositions the bladder and secures to support it.
How Can I Prepare for My First Doctor’s Appointment?
If you think you suffer from stress urinary incontinence, you’re probably wondering what to expect during your appointment. To help your appointment go smoothly, prepare several lists. It’s important to remember everything.
To prepare, write a list of all symptoms you are experiencing. Whether this is significant urination during sex or a few drops of urine when coughing, leave nothing out. Even the urge to go is worth mentioning.
Write down every medication, vitamin supplement and herbal supplement you take. This list should include the dosage of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as well as how frequently you take them.
Certain over-the-counter nutritional or dietary supplements can irritate the urinary tract, causing uncontrollable leaks. Relieving your symptoms may be as simple as taking a different dietary supplement.
Bring a Friend
During your visit, you may be given a lot of information. Bring a friend, relative or significant other to your appointment. He or she can help you take notes on all the information you’re given so you don’t forget anything.
Bring a List of Questions
Many of our clients come in with a list of questions related to stress urinary incontinence. These include:
- Will my symptoms get worse?
- Can Kegels help me? How are they done?
- Is my weight affecting the severity of my symptoms?
- Do I need to stop taking migraine or menstrual pain medications?
- What diagnostic tests will I need done?
- What is causing my incontinence?
- Will lifestyle changes alone resolve my issues?
What to Expect From Your Physician
To diagnose the cause of stress urinary incontinence, Dr. Joseph Thomas will ask you several questions. These may include:
- How frequently do you leak urine?
- How much fluid do you consume daily?
- Does anything seem to reduce your symptoms?
- Does anything seem to exacerbate your symptoms?
- Do you suffer from bowel incontinence?
- How often does bowel incontinence occur?
- Does bowel incontinence restrict your activities?
- Is incontinence preventing you from having sex or exercising?
- Do you feel like something is falling out of your pelvis?
- Do you urinate at night? How often?
Remember to answer all questions honestly and to the best of your ability. There is no need to be embarrassed. Dr. Joseph Thomas is here to help you take back control in your life.
Take Back Control Today
To learn more about stress incontinence, contact the trained medical professionals at Dr. Chicago in Chicago, IL today to schedule your initial consultation.