Incontinence can be an embarrassing problem for both women and men as we get older. It can range from leaking a little urine when you laugh, sneeze or exercise to a sudden, intense urge to urinate that you cannot control. Kelly E. Maloney, MD, with Lexington Urology, answers your questions about this common condition.
Why do people develop incontinence?
Incontinence is caused by many things. For women, the most common causes are weakness of the pelvic floor muscles and an overactive bladder. In men, incontinence can be caused by an enlarged prostate.
Is it normal to have a small amount of incontinence after a certain age?
It is not necessarily normal to develop incontinence with age but several factors that contribute to incontinence do occur with aging. In women, it can be related to declining estrogen levels. In men, it can be due to enlargement of the prostate.
When should I worry about my incontinence?
Incontinence should be addressed when symptoms become bothersome to you, which varies from person to person.
Can diet play a role in incontinence?
There are many foods and beverages which are bladder irritants, so try to avoid those. Some examples include caffeine, soda and alcohol. Medications may also exacerbate incontinence. Patients with diabetes and sugar in the urine can experience urinary incontinence.
Obesity increases risk of incontinence, especially in women. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of incontinence.
What are the treatments for incontinence?
There are many treatments for incontinence, depending on the cause. Treatment options include:
- Behavioral therapy
- Dietary modification
- Bladder retraining
- Pelvic floor therapy
- Surgical procedures
I feel embarrassed about it. How do I broach the subject with my doctor?
Incontinence is common and nothing to be embarrassed about. I encourage patients to have an open conversation with their doctor about it. There are many treatment options that can help.
Kelly E. Maloney, MD, Lexington Urology