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Why young women struggle with bladder leakage

Incontinence, or bladder leakage, is not something that only happens to those in their retirement years. In fact, urogynecologist Anne Wiskind, M.D., says she sees many new mothers who are dealing with the embarrassing and uncomfortable condition.

While it might not be a dire medical emergency, bladder leakage can prevent someone from participating in their normal daily activities, like keeping up with their children, says Dr. Wiskind.

The difference between stress incontinence and urge incontinence  

There are two main types of incontinence women experience, she explains:

  • Stress incontinence, which is when leakage occurs as a result of coughing, laughing, exercising or sneezing.
  • Urge incontinence, which is occurs when someone can’t reach the bathroom quickly enough and experiences leakage. Click here for more from Dr. Wiskind about urge incontinence.

The symptoms of stress incontinence

Stress incontinence does not affect the bladder’s ability to empty or its storage capacity. Most people with stress incontinence have normal bladder sensations, meaning they don’t necessarily “go” more often than other people.

“People with stress incontinence know they have it because every time they cough, laugh, sneeze or jog, they leak,” she explains.

Causes of stress incontinence

Dr. Wiskind says many of her patients with stress incontinence say it began after their first pregnancy and worsened after a second pregnancy.

“They never really knew there was something they could do about it and were too busy,” she says.

Childbirth isn’t the only cause of stress incontinence: Both running and heavy lifting can also put a strain on the pelvic floor muscles.

Treatment for stress incontinence

Fortunately, “stress incontinence isn’t something you have to live with,” says Dr. Wiskind. “I tell my patients to take charge and empower themselves to figure out how to do the things to get the bladder under control and not let the bladder control you.”

Behavior modifications, such as limiting how much you drink and performing pelvic floor exercises, can improve symptoms. If you think you are experiencing incontinence, see your doctor for the treatment plan that’s right for you.

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