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 Post subject: Bladder Control for Women
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 3:40 pm 
Bladder Control for Women

Women of all ages have bladder control problems. Some younger women find they can’t hold their urine after having a baby. Others have problems when they stop having periods. Many women over the age of 75 also have bladder control problems.

You may feel ashamed about bladder control problems. Remember that it’s a medical problem and it’s not your fault. Millions of women have the same problem.

Don’t believe people who tell you that urine leakage is normal. It isn’t. Most of the time it can be improved.

Your health care team can help you. Nearly everyone with a bladder control problem can be helped. Call your clinic and find out how.

What causes bladder control problems?

Most bladder control problems happen when muscles are weak or too active. Problems may also happen when nerve signals don’t work properly.

If the muscles that keep your bladder closed are weak, you may have accidents when you sneeze, laugh, or lift a heavy object. This is called stress incontinence. It is the most common type of bladder control problem.

Stress incontinence often occurs when women are pregnant or after childbirth. The pelvic floor muscles stretch and weaken in pregnancy or childbirth.

The same muscles become weak after a woman stops having periods (menopause). They weaken because they no longer get female hormones.

Sometimes, the bladder muscles become too active. Then you have a different problem. You may feel strong, sudden urges to go to the bathroom, even if your bladder has little urine. This kind of bladder problem is called urge incontinence or overactive bladder.

Several things can cause your bladder to be too active:

* a bladder infection
* nerve damage (sometimes from childbirth)
* drinking alcohol (beer, wine, etc.)
* some medicines

What is the treatment for bladder control problems?

Your treatment will depend on the type of bladder control problem you have. Some treatments are simple. Others are more complicated. Your health care team may suggest one of the following treatments:

Do-It-Yourself Treatments

Pelvic muscle exercises. You can learn simple exercises that can strengthen the muscles near the urethra. These are called pelvic muscle exercises or Kegel exercises and take only a few minutes a day.

Bladder training. You can train your bladder to hold urine better. Follow a timetable to store and release urine. You can also learn to decrease the urge to urinate.

Weight loss. Sometimes extra weight causes bladder control problems. A good meal plan and exercise program can lead to weight loss.

Food and drink. Some drinks and foods may make urine control harder. These include foods with caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate) and alcohol. Your health care team can suggest how to change your diet for better bladder control

Muscle Therapy

Electrical stimulation. Certain devices stimulate the muscles around the urethra. This makes the muscles stronger and tighter.

Biofeedback. This takes the guesswork out of pelvic muscle exercise. A therapist places a patch over the muscles. A wire connects the patch to a TV screen. You watch the screen to see if you are exercising the right muscles. The therapist will help you. Soon you learn to control these muscles without the patch or screen.

Medical Treatments

Medicines. Certain drugs can tighten or strengthen urethral and pelvic floor muscles. Other medicines can calm overactive bladder muscles and nerves. A skin patch can be worn to treat symptoms of overactive bladder.

Surgery. Some bladder control problems can be solved by surgery.

Many different operations can improve bladder control. The operation depends on what is causing the problem. In most cases, the surgeon changes the position of the bladder and urethra. After the operation, the bladder control muscles work better.
Devices

Pessary. Your doctor can place a special device called a pessary (PESS-uh-ree) in the vagina. The device will hold up the bladder to prevent leakage.

Urethral inserts. Your doctor may give you a small device that goes directly in the urethra. You can learn to insert the device yourself. It’s like a little plug. You remove the device when it is time to go to the bathroom and then replace it until it’s time to go again.

Urine seals. This is a small foam pad you place over the urethra opening. There it seals itself against your body to keep urine from leaking. When you go to the bathroom, you remove the pad and throw it away.

Soon you will be able to buy new products to help control leaks. However, they do not cure the causes of bladder control problems.

Dryness Aids

Pads or diapers. Pads or diapers help many people. But diapers do not cure bladder control problems. See a doctor or nurse, even if diapers are working for you.

Bedside urinal. Some people use a bed pan or a bedside chair urinal (YOOR-uh-nul) or commode.

Assistance. If you are disabled, health care workers can help you move more easily to a toilet. Your doctor or nurse may teach you to urinate on a schedule that prevents wetting.

Renovations. Sometimes, you just need a carpenter to make changes to your house. Perhaps you need a hallway light. Or a downstairs bathroom. Another solution could be widening a bathroom door to fit a wheelchair. -NDDK


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