Urinary Incontinence: Why Women More than Men?
Urinary incontinence impacts twice as many women as men. This derives from a woman's unique health issues, mostly connected to reproduction. Events such as pregnancy, childbirth, reproductive surgeries and menopause all can weaken the bladder, urethra and pelvic floor muscles that support these organs. That weakening, which also occurs naturally with age, can lead to a greater risk of developing urinary incontinence.
The pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, urethra, uterus, and bowels is vitally important to avoiding urinary incontinence. Learning how to strengthen those muscles or minimize the damage to them can make a big difference. When the muscles that support the urinary tract are weak, the muscles in the urinary tract are stressed to hold urine until you are ready to urinate. This extra stress or pressure may lead to leakage or urinary incontinence.
Another important issue is a woman's urethra is shorter than the male urethra. Any weakness or damage to the urethra increases the risk of developing urinary incontinence because there is less muscle keeping the urine in to begin with.
The two most common types of urinary incontinence in women are:
- Stress incontinence. Stress incontinence happens when there is stress or pressure on the bladder. Stress incontinence can happen when weak pelvic floor muscles put pressure on the bladder and urethra by making them work harder. With stress incontinence, everyday actions that use the pelvic floor muscles, such as coughing, sneezing, or laughing, can cause you to leak urine.
- Urge incontinence. With urge incontinence, urine leakage usually happens after a strong, sudden urge to urinate and before you can get to a bathroom. Some women with urge incontinence are able to get to a bathroom in time but feel the urge to urinate more than eight times a day. They also do not urinate much once they get to the bathroom. Urge incontinence is sometimes called “overactive bladder.”
Many women with urinary incontinence have both stress and urge incontinence. This is called “mixed” incontinence.
What can be done to minimize the risk of women developing urinary incontinence? There are several actions to consider.
Avoid caffeine: caffeine can cause the bladder to fill out quickly and put strain on it which can lead to leakage. Studies show women who drink more than two servings of a caffeine drink per day may have a higher likelihood of developing urinary incontinence.
Overall, your diet is an important factor for urinary incontinence. Eating healthy can help alleviate current symptoms or decrease the risk of developing symptoms in the first place.
Lose weight: being overweight puts pressure on the same pelvic floor muscles and organs, like the bladder, responsible for helping avoid leakage and urinary incontinence. Weight loss can help minimize that pressure and allow the muscles to heal.
Quit Smoking: smoking irritates the bladder and can cause more frequent urination. Smokers also can develop a chronic cough and coughing, especially hard and frequent coughing, strains the pelvic floor muscles and can lead to uncontrolled leakage.
For women struggling with urinary incontinence or accidental leakage, try out our adult underwear, skin balm or washcloth incontinence products.