Many women falsely believe that leaking urine is normal and to be expected as we age. One forty-two year old woman said that she expected this at her advanced age! Many women leak urine after they have had a baby! They will find that they leak urine with coughing, sneezing, running and other activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure like jumping on a trampoline. This is what is known as stress urinary incontinence.
Other women may have what is known as overactive bladder syndrome or OAB. This is where women experience frequency, urgency and nocturia (getting up at night to void) with or without leakage. One can expect to void about 6-8 times in a twenty-four hour period and that includes once at night. Some women find that they are voiding upwards of twenty to thirty times per day and they may leak as well. You can see where that would impact quality of life.
One patient of mine who was a nurse practitioner found that she leaked urine on her way down during her mountain biking. This did not sound typically like either of the above diagnoses and therefore I did a uroflow test on her to see just how fast she voided and to find out if she retained urine in her bladder. That said, no one empties their bladder entirely but this woman had 700 cc’s left in after voiding. (normal is 100 cc’s). This patient was diagnosed with urinary retention which would place her at risk for urinary tract infection not to mention a pressure buildup in her bladder that may eventually effect her kidney function.
Urinary incontinence is not caused by aging but rather associated with the medical conditions that occur as we age for example like rheumatoid arthritis which may effect mobility. A person may have more difficulty getting to the bathroom and therefore may slip and fall. This is known as functional urinary incontinence.
So as you can see there are many reasons for bladder troubles. That said there are a number of treatments too. Stay tuned for my next blog post where I will give you the answers to keep your bladder healthy!