Ahh-choo! Oops, did that just happen?

June 02, 2022 | by Kelly Jirschele, DO, FACOG
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

You sneezed and … oops, you wet your pants. Many moms have been there, done that. Changes in your body from pregnancy and childbirth can include something nobody wants to talk about: urinary leakage.

There are two main types of urinary incontinence (UI):

  • Stress – urine leakage during certain activities, such as sneezing, laughing or exercise
  • Urge (overactive bladder) – urine leakage after a sudden urge to go

UI is common among women, with close to 18 million women dealing with some form of incontinence, but it is not often discussed. Research suggests women often wait about six and a half years to talk to their doctor about their bladder problems.

The secrecy and embarrassment around UI can contribute to some misconceptions. Here are 7 myths about urinary incontinence:

  • It’s an inevitable part of getting older – While incontinence is more common among older people (aging increases the risk), aging does not cause UI and women of any age can be affected.
  • It affects all women who have given birth – Not all women who have given birth will develop UI. The National Association for Continence says 63 percent of stress-incontinent women report their symptoms began during or after pregnancy. But research shows it’s often temporary.
  • Waiting to use the bathroom will cause it – Holding in urine may not affect bladder function at all. In fact, some experts recommend training yourself to hold in urine.
  • It’s because of a small bladder – Most people have normal-size bladders. Certain people may urinate often, but the more likely causes are not related to bladder size.
  • Cutting back on liquids will improve it – Drinking smaller amounts can lead to dehydration and actually make bladder problems worse. Instead, experts suggest avoiding caffeine, alcohol, diet sodas, and citrus juices, while staying hydrated.
  • It’s just a nuisance, not a big deal UI can make life miserable. Embarrassment or fear of an accident can lead to loneliness, depression and social isolation. Getting treatment when UI is mild can save years of embarrassment and help you avoid future complications.
  • It’s something you have to live with – Today, there are more treatment options for incontinence than ever before, and most cases can be controlled, if not cured. Management may include diet and lifestyle changes, biofeedback, Kegel exercises, medications or minimally invasive surgical options.

Many women experience urinary incontinence. If you're one of them, you don’t have to live with it. Find a doctor now so you can get back to life as usual.

The Women's Center for Pelvic Medicine at Edward Hospital offers a range of treatment options for urinary incontinence. In addition, both Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals offer pelvic floor rehabilitation services by certified physical therapists.

Learn more about urinary incontinence services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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