More than six million people, mostly women, are keeping a secret. According to experts, that’s how many suffer from urinary incontinence, and are too embarrassed to get help. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, incontinence affects more than 13 million Americans and 85 percent of them are women and more than half do not seek medical help. Yet most of the time, incontinence can be greatly improved if not cured.
Seeing your family practitioner or gynecologist is an important first step (he or she may refer your to a urologist for treatment). Your doctor will ask questions to determine what’s causing your problems and may ask you to keep a diary, recording the times you urinate and the times you leak. Your solutions may be as simple as restricting coffee, which is a diuretic, and performing Kegel exercises, which strengthen weakened pelvic-floor muscles that regulate urine flow.
A variety of physicians and health care professionals treat an array of incontinence and pelvic floor disorders. Visit the Steward DoctorFinder™ to locate a urologist or gynecologist.
Kegel exercises can be done anytime anywhere. To perform Kegel exercises, pull in the same muscles you would use to stop urinating mid stream and try holding the tension for seven to 10 seconds. Aim for three sets of 10 Kegels a day.
Self help methods may help with mild incontinence. For more severe cases your doctor will do a full work up to find a cause and solution that suits you best. Don’t resign yourself to living with urinary incontinence. Work with your physician to avoid embarrassment, prevent urinary infections, sores and rashes, and ensure that your quality of life doesn’t suffer.