What’s the most embarrassing thing that could happen to you? If you were to make a list, urinating in your pants would probably be pretty high on it. Starting in early childhood, we’re taught that it’s socially unacceptable to wet yourself. From a developmental perspective, this makes sense. Children need to learn how to control their bathroom habits as they grow into adults with socially acceptable practices.

However, this ingrained understanding can make it hard for people to talk about incontinence. This is despite the fact that incontinence is fairly common. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 13 million Americans suffer from incontinence, and 85% of them are women. Many people isolate themselves out of fear of ridicule and consequently lose self-esteem or find it hard to work.

Fortunately, the condition is often treatable. If you’re suffering from incontinence, come see the team at Dr. John Macey in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Macey has more than 27 years of experience as an obstetrician and gynecologist and is board-certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He and the rest of our staff are proud to offer state-of-the-art and comprehensive treatments for women of all ages.

On stress incontinence

Urinary incontinence is defined as the unintentional loss of urine. Although there are multiple kinds of incontinence, stress incontinence is the most prevalent. Stress incontinence typically occurs when you perform an action that puts pressure, or stress, on the bladder, which then causes it to leak urine.

The amount of urine that leaks out can be different from person to person. Some may notice a couple drops, while others may experience a brief squirt or even a stream of urine capable of soaking clothes.

Activities that can lead to stress incontinence

Movements that may cause a bout of incontinence can vary from individual to individual. Some of the common movements include:

  • Laughing
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Jumping
  • Exercising
  • Heavy lifting
  • Bending over
  • Standing
  • Walking

Some patients may also have incontinence during sexual intercourse.

Causes of stress incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when the pelvic floor muscles and sphincter muscle, which support the urethra, become weak. When the muscles are weak, it’s easier for outside stress to cause the bladder to release urine. Causes and risk factors include:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth (especially vaginal birth)
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Chronic coughing
  • Nerve injuries to the lower back
  • Pelvic or prostate surgery
  • Injury
  • Pelvic prolapse
  • Age
  • Gender (female)

In some cases, the exact cause of stress incontinence may be unknown.

Treating stress incontinence

There are a variety of ways to treat stress incontinence. Incontinence, which is often a part of aging, can be managed but not cured. Depending on your diagnosis, Dr. Macey may recommend any of the following treatments:

  • Kegel exercises
  • Watching fluid consumption
  • Lifestyle changes, including weight loss and smoking cessation
  • Bladder training
  • Medical devices
  • Surgery

Dr. Macey also specializes in laser procedures that can rejuvenate the tissues that support the bladder.

Don’t let the stigma around incontinence keep you from seeking help. There are ways to treat stress incontinence and improve your symptoms. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with the practice of Dr. John Macey today.

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