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Eliminate Embarrassing Leaks

Urinary incontinence, also known as loss of bladder control, is a common problem, affecting close to one-third of adults at some point in their lives. Women are affected about twice as often as men. The condition aggravates with age – about 46 percent of postmenopausal women suffer from it – but contrary to common belief, it is not a normal part of aging.

Diagnosis of Incontinence

Effective treatment begins with correct diagnosis. There are two main types of incontinence, each with a number of possible causes:

Stress incontinence is urine leakage that typically happens when laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting or exercising. It is most commonly caused by weakness of the pelvic floor muscles that surround the bladder, preventing full closure of the urinary sphincter (the valve that controls release of urine). This weakness often results from tissue or nerve damage incurred during childbirth in women and from prostrate surgery in men. Other contributing factors include urinary tract infection, obesity, diabetes and medications.

Urge incontinence is urine leakage that occurs with a strong, sudden need to urinate, even if the bladder is not full. It is typically caused from damage to the nerves or muscles of the bladder, or from a dysfunction in the nervous system as a whole from injury or conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, brain tumor or stroke.

Diagnosis begins with a physical exam, often followed by one of more of these common diagnostic tests:

  • Cystometry – measures the amount of urine actually in the bladder compared with how full the bladder feels
  • Cystoscopy – a visual examination of the inside of the bladder and urinary tract, using a cystoscope (a thin tube with a tiny lens or camera on the end)
  • Electromyography – a test that records electrical activity in muscles
  • Urinalysis – to check for urinary tract infection
  • Uroflowmetry – measures the flow and force of urine stream during urination

Treatment Options

There are a number of treatment options for urinary incontinence:

  • First treatment options typically include conservative treatments such as medications, dietary changes and pelvic muscle (Kegel) exercises, as well as management devices such as pessaries for women and penile clamps for men
  • Physical therapy can include gentle, hands-on techniques to help associated organs, soft tissues and joints function in a more coordinated manner
  • InterStim® therapy involves implanting an electronic device that acts like a pacemaker for the bladder
  • Surgical options uses a narrow strip of natural or synthetic material inside the pelvic area to support the bladder neck and the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder)
  • BOTOX® injections across the bladder muscle can prevent involuntary bladder contractions

The MidMichigan Difference

  • Our Nurse Navigator is available to answer your questions about urinary incontinence, explain medical information, assist with physician referrals and help you understand your treatment options.
  • MidMichigan offers Da Vinci Robotic Surgery to enable advanced minimally invasive procedures for many complex surgeries.
  • MidMichigan facilities are conveniently located in safe and friendly communities, with easy access and parking.

Your Next Steps

If you are experiencing urinary incontinence, talk to your health care provider, or contact MidMichigan’s Nurse Navigator directly at (989) 837-9045 or toll free at (888) 626-4547. 

For a physician referral, visit www.midmichigan.org/doctors or call MidMichigan Health Line at (989) 837-9090 in Midland or toll-free at (800) 999-3199.

Resource Library

National Association for Continence – A national, private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with incontinence, voiding dysfunction, and related pelvic floor disorders.

Take the Floor – Patient resources for pelvic floor disorders from the American Urogynecologic Society Foundation. 

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse – A service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

The Simon Foundation For Continence – An educational organization dedicated to providing assistance and support to those suffering from urinary incontinence.