Bladder—taking control

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 5th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

We all want a certain level of control over our lives, particularly when it comes to bodily functions. But millions of women experience urinary incontinence after a sneeze, a cough or even a laugh.

Chronic loss of bladder control typically occurs around menopause. And a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk and symptoms of incontinence. Overactive bladder, also called urge incontinence, occurs when the bladder muscle involuntarily contracts due to age-related changes or certain medical conditions. Stress incontinence is caused by childbirth, weight gain or other health events that stretch the pelvic floor muscles.

Although incontinence does not cause major health problems, it can prevent women from participating in some physical and social activities. It can also lead to embarrassing situations. But medical experts say overcoming feelings of shame is crucial because many women wait years before seeing a medical doctor. The good news: ninety percent of those who do seek help find relief. A newer, minimally invasive medical procedure has an eighty-five percent success rate with stress incontinence.

Biofeedback-assisted behavioral training has been found to greatly reduce stress incontinence by isolating and working out the pelvic muscles. Urge incontinence is successfully treated with medications and behavioral methods to train the bladder.

So, experts say if you’re having trouble making it to the restroom, make sure you make it to the doctor’s office. Because when it comes to your bladder, it’s really NOT a laughing matter.