Knowing what causes light incontinence is the first step in controlling it, so here we share the most common triggers.
Patients who visit Dr. Amy Rosenman's office are usually too embarrassed to talk about the reason they made an appointment.
Many women think they're alone in living with light bladder leakage (LBL), but the reality is that 30 per cent of women over age 60 will experience some form of incontinence in their lifetime, reveals Dr. Rosenman, a urogynecologist who works at Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
"I'm very lighthearted about it, and I tell them, "Here's the place to talk about it, because bladders are us. You don't have to be embarrassed about it, because this is what I do every day,'" Rosenman said.
Urinary incontinence can happen at any age for a variety of reasons, including after childbirth or as a result of aging, a stroke or a spinal cord injury. But while it used to be a taboo subject, the chronic condition has been put into the spotlight in recent years, and even Hollywood is tackling overactive bladders. Whoopi Goldberg created a series of webisodes, and in them she admits to occasionally "spritzing." This year, Kirstie Alley donned a pair of fairy wings and encouraged women to not "be freakin' cuz you're leakin'."
There are several kinds of urinary incontinence, but the two that affect the majority of people are these:
This type of incontinence is caused by pelvic floor weakness, so such simple human activities as coughing, laughing or sneezing can cause women to leak urine. Exercising, lifting heavy weight and pregnancy are also associated with stress LBL.
Dr. Rosenman describes this one as the "gotta go" kind of LBL. People who have it will suddenly feel the urge to go but won't make it to the toilet in time.
Women who are experiencing light bladder leakage should talk to their doctor about treatment options. While monitoring your diet, maintaining a healthy weight, analyzing fluid intake, staying active and doing Kegel exercises regularly can reduce symptoms, behavioural techniques, such as bladder training, or surgery may be an option.
The key is knowing your body and being honest about LBL. Having the courage to admit to experiencing light bladder leakage and educating yourself on the condition is the first step to coping and living life to the fullest.
Amy E. Rosenman, M.D., is a urogynecologist at Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California. 310-721-5799.
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