Are you affected by urge incontinence?
Urge incontinence is a very common problem that makes up about 3 in 10 cases of incontinence.
While many think that only older people suffer from the condition, it can be experienced by people of any age.
About a quarter of adults have experienced incontinence at some point, so there is no need to feel embarrassed about experiencing it yourself.
Instead, it is important to understand why you might be having problems, so that you can tackle them head on.
What is urge incontinence?
Urge incontinence refers to feeling a sudden need to urinate, which often leads to leaks before you can get to the loo. You may also find yourself needing to go more often, having to get up lots during the night, and even having to stop during sex.
However you experience urge incontinence, it can be frustrating, and you probably want to know exactly what’s going on down there.
Why do I have this problem?
The problem is often down to an overactive bladder. Your bladder is slowly filling with urine all the time. When it gets full, your pelvic floor muscles usually keep the urethra closed, keeping everything in the bladder until you are ready to relax and let it out. When to release the urine is decided by you, and communicated to the bladder and pelvic floor muscles through your nerves.
With an overactive bladder, your pelvic floor muscles suddenly relax before you are ready. While your bladder is capable of carrying more liquid, your brain receives messages telling it that it is already full, and acts on these messages with very little warning.
Urge incontinence is more common for certain people, and some women develop it after menopause. This is likely to be because of big changes in levels of the hormone oestrogen, which can lead to the lining of the vagina getting smaller. It can also be the result of nerve damage caused by things like injury, stroke, or illness.
Urge incontinence can feel embarrassing and lead to you avoiding social situations. You are not alone, though, and there are lots of ways to address the problem and live life to the full.
How to relieve the symptoms
While no one is completely sure why many people have urge incontinence, there are certain things that can make it worse.
Try avoiding these things to see if your symptoms improve:
- Alcohol. This can aggravate the bladder, and make your symptoms even worse. Avoid drinking alcohol where you can, or at least try cutting down.
- Caffeine. This makes your kidneys produce more urine, which is the last thing you want when you’re experiencing a frequent need to go to the loo. You might find yourself needing to go less often by cutting down on caffeine.
- Going to the loo very regularly. When you are having incontinence problems, you might feel it is safer to empty your bladder quite often. If you do this, though, your bladder will get used to holding less, and smaller amounts of urine might trigger the sudden urge to go.
- Being overweight. If you are very overweight, this could be contributing to urge incontinence. Try eating fewer calories and exercising more, and it might just ease symptoms in the long run.
There are also actions you can take to improve your symptoms. One method is bladder training, where you gradually train your bladder to hold more liquid. As your brain gets used to the sensation of your bladder being fuller, the sense of urgency and automatic relaxation will happen less often.
It is always best to see your doctor when experiencing problems with incontinence that have a negative impact on your life. A doctor or nurse can help you structure a bladder training regime, and offer other advice to help with your symptoms.
In more severe cases, you might require medication or other treatments to fix the problem. Your doctor will be able to talk through your options with you, and help you get back to feeling like you.
Coping with Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence is one of the most frustrating types of incontinence. Unlike some other kinds of incontinence, you can’t just ease symptoms by avoiding lots of movement. You often don’t know when you’ll feel the sudden urge to urinate.
While there are things you can do to solve the problem in the long term, it is important that you can feel as comfortable as possible right away.
You don’t need to miss out on social events for fear of embarrassment. You can carry on as normal by wearing absorbent products inside your clothing.
Some people prefer to wear incontinence pads, whilst others prefer using washable incontinence pants. Just like normal underwear, you wear incontinence pads beneath your normal clothes, and simply put them in the wash at the end of the day. This means you don’t create lots of waste, and can make your life that bit easier while also being kinder to the environment.
If you would like more advice on dealing with incontinence, please browse our blog and other resources. Or click here to visit our incontinence products shop.