Urinary Incontinence in Women Explained

by Chrissie Seals, WHNP, Salud Spa

Leaking urine can be embarrassing, create hygiene issues and interfere with relationships. Many women experience such conditions.

There are two main types of urinary incontinence:

  • Stress incontinence is leaking urine with straining such as coughing, sneezing or lifting something heavy. It may be caused by the wear and tear of childbirth, genetics, being overweight or a combination of these factors.
  • Urge incontinence is described as leaking urine when you feel an “urge” to pee that is intense. It may be a symptom of bladder irritants such as caffeine affecting the bladder or other bladder conditions.

Mixed urinary incontinence is defined as both stress and urge incontinence.

The body processes that allow us to achieve continence most of the time and empty the bladder when desired are complex. When we are not emptying the bladder, the bladder muscle should be relaxed and the pelvic floor muscles should be strong.

When an individual voids, the nerves from the brain to the bladder will direct the bladder muscle to contract and the pelvic floor muscles to relax. When the bladder is irritated, there can be continuous undulating small contractions the prevent continence.

The most common bladder irritant is caffeine, so it is also one of the first items we recommend avoiding. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is often the next recommendation, using Kegel exercises or graduated vaginal weights.

An option for evaluating incontinence are bladder studies that allow the clinician to correctly analyze the issue.

Bladder surgery can be beneficial for some women, although results vary and may be dependent on the skill of the surgeon. Many women report success for a limited period of time with surgery. Medications may help some patients.

An exciting new approach to treating urinary incontinence is the O shot developed by Charles Runnel, M.D. There are several recent studies showing marked improvement in 80% of patients at three months.

The procedure involves drawing the patient’s blood, processing the blood to harvest the clear portion packed with growth factors and stem cells and called platelet rich plasma or PRP. The area to be treated is carefully anesthetized and most patients report no discomfort.

The patient’s own PRP is injected in the anterior vagina and into the clitoral network. The PRP heals tissue, builds collagen and improves symptoms of urinary incontinence.