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What You Know About Urinary Incontinence: Fact or Fiction?

July 25, 2017

If you suffer from urinary incontinence, you’re not alone. According to the National Association for Continence, approximately 25 million American adults suffer from temporary or chronic urinary incontinence and 80 percent are women. Research shows it takes women an average of six and a half years to get diagnosed, simply because they are too embarrassed to talk about it with their doctor.

It’s true that incontinence isn’t a popular topic at cocktail parties. Many people won’t even discuss it with their doctor. That’s why lack of information—and misinformation—is all too common.

It’s time to drop the hush-hush and begin the talk-talk about what you know and don’t know about incontinence.

It’s time to uncover the myths about incontinence and go from quietly embarrassed to happily informed.

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine, with two main kinds: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is when the leakage is related to increases in intra-abdominal pressure, such as coughing, laughing and sneezing. Urge incontinence occurs when the leakage is precipitated by the urge to urinate.

Six Incontinence Myths Exposed

There are a lot of stories swirling around the subject of incontinency, many suffering from too much fiction and not enough fact.

Myth #1

“Urinary incontinence is an inevitable part of aging.” Fiction. Although urinary incontinence is more common among older people — with stress incontinence often affecting women in their forties and fifties and urge incontinence striking women aged 60 and older — aging in and of itself does not cause incontinence. It’s just one of many age-related risk factors including obesity and diabetes.

Myth #2

“Incontinence due to my pregnancy is permanent.”  No in many cases. Incontinence is common among women, largely because of the changes their bodies experience during pregnancy and childbirth. According to the National Association for Continence, 63 percent of stress-incontinent women say their symptoms began during or after pregnancy. But research shows it’s often temporary. One study found that only 26 percent of women who had incontinence during their final trimester continued to have urinary leakage postpartum. However, women who develop urinary incontinence during pregnancy are at a higher risk for developing it later in life.

Myth #3

“Small bladders lead to big bladder problems.” Not true. There is no such thing as a small bladder unless you’ve had surgery to reduce the size for cancer or unless they are neurologically impaired. Most people have normal-size bladders that may seem small functionally but in reality is the same size as everyone else’s. Certain people may urinate often, which makes them feel like they have a small bladder. The more likely reasons for incontinence issues are weak muscles, infection or nerve damage.

Myth #4

“Drinking as little as possible can improve incontinence.” Fiction. Some people think cutting back on liquids may help them avoid accidents, but this is generally not a good idea, as it can lead to dehydration. Bladder irritants like caffeine, soda and juice should be avoided. However, it is suggested that people with urge incontinence try drinking other liquids at times that are convenient for using the bathroom.

Myth #5

“Holding in urine will make me incontinent.” False. Waiting to use the bathroom will not affect bladder function at all. In fact, some experts recommend training yourself to hold in urine as a remedy for incontinence.

Myth #6

“Urinary incontinence is just something you have to live with.” Thankfully, not true. Incontinence is treatable and surgery may not be the only recommended option. Other possible remedies include biofeedback, medication, Kegel exercises…even Botox!

Lose the Embarrassment.

You don’t have to live with the embarrassment and social isolation that can result from incontinence. Now that you know incontinence can be treated, it’s time to seek out medical assistance. Find a doctor who understands the condition and is willing to work with you to come up with an agreeable and successful treatment plan. Although you may not want to discuss your condition at your next cocktail party, you’ll be happy you discussed it with your doctor.

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