Urinary incontinence is a condition that is embarrassing and distressing - and far from uncommon in women of all ages. There may be various causes, from childbirth to infection, and from gynaecological surgery to loss of oestrogen at menopause. In too many cases women do not discuss the problem with their doctor early enough for the right help or advice to be given. For many women, incontinence may be more of an annoyance than a serious problem and they can benefit from methods that restore their ability to control urination. Others may need surgical help.
How it is diagnosed
Your gynaecologist may ask you a series of questions about your symptoms. These will help determine the bladder-control condition you have. The complete diagnosis will involve a physical examination and a series of simple tests.
Bladder function is tested by asking the patient to drink large quantities of fluid and seeing how much urine is passed under normal circumstances. A second test, called urodynamics, involves several procedures: the pressure in the bladder and the flow of urine are checked, a sample of urine is taken for analysis to detect any infection or bladder stones, the whole urinary system is examined by ultrasound, and a fibreoptic cystoscope may be inserted into the urethra so that the urinary tract can then be inspected from the inside.
Range of Treatment Options
Treatment of incontinence depends on its type. Women suffering from stress incontinence may be referred for gynaecological physiotheraphy sessions to learn Kegek and other exercises. Postmenopausal women may be asked to consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to restore estrogen levels. If stress incontinence persists, surgery may be suggested.