Holy Family Hospital

Continence and Pelvic Floor Services

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.

How Do I Know if I Need to See an Expert for Continence and/or Pelvic Floor Issues?

  • Have you ever leaked urine when you laughed or sneezed?
  • Do you sometimes need to go to the bathroom more than eight times a day?
  • Do you feel sudden urges to use the bathroom, sometimes not having enough time to actually get to a toilet?
  • Did you recently give birth and now experience urine leaks?

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.

Need a doctor?

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.

How to Perform Kegel Exercises

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.

Other Steps You Can Take to Help You Regain Control of Your Bladder

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and artificial sweeteners. They can irritate the bladder.
  • Cross your legs. If you have stress incontinence, crossing your legs when you feel a sneeze or a cough coming on can prevent leakage.
  • Stop smoking as it irritates the bladder lining and damages nerves. Chronic coughing caused by smoking can weaken bladder muscles.
  • Monitor your fluid. If nighttime incontinence is a problem, stop drinking after 6 p.m.
  • Take off extra pounds to take some of the strain off your bladder and pelvic muscles.

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.

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