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Urinary Incontinence
A Growing Concern for Women

If you experience urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control, you know it's no laughing matter. Although men can have this problem, it is twice as common in women. But, it doesn't need to control your life. Incontinence can be treated, so don't let embarrassment keep you from seeking help.

What Is Incontinence?
Kenneth Yun, MD Urology

Dr. Yun is a board certified urologist with Methodist Urological Associates and specializes in a full range of urologic disorders. Dr. Yun is a member of the American Urological Association. He attended the St. Louis School of Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Yun's clinical expertise includes:

• General urology treatment of
  urologic disorders for both male and
  female patients
• Minimally invasive surgery,
  including endoscopic, laparoscopic
  and robotic techniques
• Prostate, kidney and bladder
• Benign prostate enlargement (BPH)
• Overactive bladder
• Male infertility
• Vasectomy

To make an appointment with Dr. Yun, please call 281-737-0930.

Temporary incontinence may be caused by a urinary tract infection, a medication or constipation. This kind of condition improves when you eliminate the problem that caused it. Chronic incontinence, however, is ongoing. It falls into two main categories: stress incontinence, the most common, and urge incontinence. Some women have both.

Stress incontinence comes about as a result of physical changes from pregnancy and childbirth, weight gain or menopause. The pelvic muscles can stretch and weaken, no longer supporting the bladder. If this happens you can lose the ability to tighten the muscles that close off the urethra, which allows urine to leak into the urethra when you laugh, cough, sneeze, exercise or perform other actions that cause pressure on your bladder.

Urge incontinence is the result of damage to the urinary tract or to the nerves that control urination. With this kind of bladder control problem, you may urgently feel the need to urinate suddenly or often. The sensation often comes without much warning, so you might leak enough urine to soak your clothes because you can't get to the bathroom in time. This kind of incontinence is sometimes called overactive bladder.

Can It Be Treated?

Most bladder control problems can be improved or cured. Talk openly with your doctor. Describe the symptoms, severity and frequency. Your doctor can help you find the combination of treatments that will help.

Treatments for stress incontinence include:

  • Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. (Read "Kegel Exercises" sidebar to learn more.)
  • A removable device called a pessary, a stiff ring placed inside the vagina. It helps support the bladder and puts pressure on the urethra.
  • Medication
  • Surgery, if nothing else works
Treatments for urge incontinence include:
  • Bladder training, delaying urination when you get the urge, to increase the time between trips to the bathroom
  • Medication
If one treatment fails, don't give up. Work with your doctor to find the right combination of treatments.

Kegel Exercises
To isolate the right muscles, try to stop or slow your urine flow without using your stomach, leg or buttock muscles. When you're able to slow or stop the stream of urine, you've located the right muscles. Then:
  • Contract your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Hold the contraction for three seconds then relax for three seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
Tighten only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks.