Bladder control problems or urinary incontinence can affect both men and women at any age.
However, as women approach their midlife years, certain forms of incontinence become more common, including urge incontinence, stress incontinence and a mix of both, called mixed incontinence.
Urge incontinence is often referred to as an overactive bladder, and stress incontinence occurs during physical activity or when you exert pressure on the bladder, for instance, when you sneeze, cough or laugh.
There are many causes of urge incontinence, including pelvic prolapse (shifting or dropping of the pelvic organs), pregnancy and childbirth, urinary tract infections and obesity.
However, a main cause for incontinence in women during their midlife years is declining estrogen levels after menopause, which can cause thinning and drying of muscle tissue and lining of the vagina, bladder and urethra.
Treatment for incontinence often begins with behavioral and/or medical therapy.
These therapies often include diet and fluid modifications to avoid bladder irritants, pelvic floor exercises, holding drills and medications that help relax the bladder.
Recently, the FDA has approved both Botox and the first over-the-counter patch, oxybutynin, for treatment of incontinence as well.
Urinary incontinence can greatly impair your quality of life, and in some cases, can become very serious. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor about any bladder control issues you may be having and discuss a treatment plan individualized for your needs and condition.
Cone Health is dedicated to providing exceptional women’s health services to the community, which is the main reason they opened the Women’s Health Network at MedCenter High Point. The Women’s Health Network caters specifically to women, especially those going through menopause and the physical, hormonal and emotional changes that often occur during midlife.
Dr. Deborah Schoenhoff is the medical director at the Women’s Health Network located at Cone Health MedCenter High Point.
As an internal medicine specialist, Dr. Scheonhoff also received advanced training and certification as a Certified Menopause Practitioner from the North American Menopause Society in May 2011.
She is a 1989 graduate of University of Cincinnati School of Medicine and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Moses Cone Hospital in 1994.