There is nothing more embarrassing than to be out in public and accidently peeing your pants. It isn’t something that crosses your mind, as for the entirety of your life it wasn’t a problem. When you feel the urge to urinate, you hold it in until the next available restroom and then you go and relieve yourself. But now you find yourself occasionally leaking urine after the slightest of sneezes or a sudden laugh, and your whole day is ruined.
Thoughts of frustration combined with confusion as to why urinary incontinence happens is normal. In your younger days, holding it in was second nature. It feels like your body is betraying you, becoming disobedient and no longer being in your control. Understanding why this is happening is only half the battle. However, knowing the cause can help you make the best choice when deciding treatments.
There are a number of different causes of unintentional urine loss, especially in women. Here are some:
There are muscles in the pelvis that support the bladder and are utilized in the process of retaining and expelling urine. Women who have had many children often experience weakening of these pelvic muscles due to the stress and damage that childbearing causes. The weakened pelvic muscles are unable to support the bladder and it drops down further then it should, pushing on the vagina. This makes it difficult to voluntarily tighten the urethra muscles during a situation where you may feel a urinary accident is about to occur. This is by far the most common cause of urinary incontinence in women and anything from a cough, sneeze, laugh, or any other activity that might put pressure on the pelvis will cause urine to spill out.
This is another cause of urinary incontinence where the bladder muscles themselves involuntarily contract. This type of incontinence occurs when there is a sudden, strong urge to urinate and an inability to get to a restroom in time. Unfortunately, this type is not well understood by doctors, but possible theories as to why it occurs are emotional stressors, irritation of the bladder, and even conditions that affect the brain such as Parkinson’s or a previous stroke. Conditions like diabetes or multiple sclerosis may also have a role in causing unwanted bladder problems.
There are things you can do to help combat this potential for public embarrassment. For stress incontinence, for example, because the pelvic muscle is weakened, simply exercising with kegal exercises is a great way to strengthen the muscles responsible for keeping urine in—it is, in fact, the most common and most recommend method for treating stress incontinence.
Learning how to evade episodes may also help avoid these embarrassing situations. You should reduce the amount of water you consume, wear discreet underwear designed for incontinence, and always be aware of the nearest restroom. There are also pharmaceutical and surgery options, but they are typically reserved for those who have tried the aforementioned treatment methods without success or have extreme forms urinary incontinence. Currently, further research is being conducted on this issue as it affects thousands of seniors every day.
Related: How to get rid of a UTI naturally?