There Are Many Ways to Treat Bladder Leaks
Incontinence has been a problem for many people for a long time. But it’s not a subject that people are comfortable talking about, even with their health care provider. So it’s not surprising that of women who experience urinary incontinence, only one in four will seek treatment for it. That adds up to a lot of women out there who deal with minor leaks and spritzes, wake up multiple times in the night to pee and always know where the public washrooms are located.
Men can have similar issues with bladder leaks, urgency and unwanted dribbling. It is estimated that 3.5% of men in Canada experience incontinence daily. And men are even less likely to get help to eliminate their urinary incontinence.
In both men and women, urinary incontinence can have an impact on quality of life, confidence and mental health. Despite the tendency to avoid addressing the issue, there are several different tried and tested treatment options for urinary incontinence. In our practice, we explore the conservative, non-invasive and drug-free options first, however, we feel it is important to be aware of all of the possibilities.
Surgery to Treat Urinary Incontinence
Surgical procedures are available to treat bladder leaks. While the procedures are a little different for men and women, both involve inserting a sling made of mesh or tissue to provide added support to the urethra. The extra support prevents pressure on the urethra and bladder when you cough, sneeze or jump, helping avoid a bladder leak. The surgery is typically an outpatient procedure and doesn’t require a hospital stay.
Medication to Prevent Leaky Bladders
Some people find surgery to be an unappealing option, or perhaps it is not recommended for medical reasons. Medication to prevent bladder leaks may be an option. Drugs used to treat urinary incontinence are called anticholinergics or antimuscarinics. They relax the muscles in and around the bladder to prevent spasms that can result in leaks. These drugs can effectively treat overactive bladder (OAB) and urge incontinence but are not necessarily helpful in treating stress incontinence caused by pressure on the bladder rather than spasms.
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy is an Important Option
Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help men and women with a range of pelvic floor disorders including urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, prolapse, diastasis recti, and erectile dysfunction. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can help guide you through executing the right exercises and adjustments to your body mechanics that can reduce or eliminate pelvic dysfunction and improve your quality of life.
Pessary for Incontinence
For women, a pessary is another non-surgical option used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. A pessary is a prosthetic device inserted into the vagina which provides added support to keep the pelvic organs in place and can also block bladder leaks. Pessaries come in a wide variety of shapes with specific use cases depending on the severity of the bladder leaks or degree of prolapse. Pessaries must be the right size to be comfortably used and should be professionally fitted to ensure they are effective.
Lifestyle Changes to Deal with Urine Leaks
Invasive surgery is not for everyone. Neither are the side effects of medications or the idea of inserting and removing a pessary. The least effective but the most common option is to minimize urinary incontinence with lifestyle changes. This includes using absorbent pads and limiting your intake of liquids at certain times of the day. Think of lifestyle changes as more of a management strategy than treatment. Reducing your caffeine intake and avoiding spicy foods may also help reduce the frequency of bladder leaks and the urge to go. While most people know of pelvic floor exercises like Kegels for women, men can also benefit from doing them.
High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Technology (HIFEM) for Incontinence
HIFEM is yet another treatment for urinary incontinence, which has shown excellent results to treat bladder leaks for women and men. The treatment involves using electromagnetic energy to stimulate supramaximal contraction in the pelvic muscles. With thousands of cycles of contraction and relaxation delivered during each session, HIFEM improves the strength and activation potential of muscles and increases blood flow to soft tissues. The result is restored pelvic fitness, which can better withstand the pressure causing stress incontinence, muscle spasms that cause urge incontinence, and correct pelvic organ prolapse. Best of all, it is non-invasive, drug-free, and there are no side effects.
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