• Female Incontinence

  • Treating Female Urinary Incontinence

    What is female urinary incontinence?

    Incontinence is not a specific condition, but the presence of certain symptoms—primarily, the leakage of urine. If you are experiencing urinary incontinence you certainly are not alone. It’s estimated that some 15 million women in the U.S. cope with the condition and its impact on life quality. While incontinence is generally not common among younger women, the incidence increases after childbirth and is not uncommon among post-menopausal women.

    Urologists address all four types of female urinary incontinence:

    • Stress incontinence. This diagnosis refers to leakage of urine due to physical activity—from light or strenuous exercise or simple actions such as sneezing, coughing or laughing
    • Urge incontinence. This is experienced as a strong, intense urge to urinate, followed by urine leakage. It can occur even when one has just gone to the bathroom.
    • Mixed incontinence. Sometimes, a woman experiences symptoms of both stress and urge incontinence at the same time.
    • Overflow incontinence. Certain conditions can result in the bladder never emptying completely, so that leakage occurs as excess urine collects.

    How is urinary incontinence treated?

    Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the source of the problem. Once the cause is diagnosed, a urologist may recommend a therapeutic regimen involving one of more of the following

    • Medications, including prescription drugs to calm the bladder, increase bladder capacity or rejuvenate tissues in the urethra and vaginal areas
    • Bladder training, to lengthen the time between one’s need to urinate
    • Lifestyle changes, including dietary adjustments and stress-relief measures
    • Electrical stimulation, to strengthen pelvic wall muscles
    • Physical therapy, including pelvic floor muscle exercises and more
    • Medical devices to control urine flow
    • Interventional therapies, including injections or surgery

  • Heather's Story

    Heather Foggins suffered from urinary incontinence for years, unable to lead a normal life. Through the help of the surgeons, nurses and care team at St. Anthony North Health Campus, Heather is back to living her life to the fullest.


  • Ask a Urologist

    Q.  How common is urinary incontinence (UI) among women?
    A. 
    UI—or loss of bladder control—affects many more women than you might imagine…and at a rate twice that experienced by men.  That’s because pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and aging are all known factors for increasing one’s UI risk. These natural occurrences in a woman’s lifecycle can affect the muscles and nerves of the urinary tract that work together to control urine retention and flow.

    The fact that UI is a common problem, however, doesn’t make it any less stressful—especially when the catalyst is as simple as exercising, laughing, sneezing or sexual intimacy. Fortunately, women today have many options that can help resolve the problem and help them experience a higher quality of life. New medications, therapeutic approaches and procedures are proving very effective. I strongly encourage women with UI to speak with a urologist. More about female urinary incontinence.

    Chris Webster, MD, is board-certified in Urology and trained in laparoscopic, robotic, cryosurgery and laser surgery techniques. He sees both men and women in his St. Anthony North Health Campus office. Dr. Webster specializes in minimally invasive procedures for prostate and kidney disorders, women's urinary incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse, and prostate diseases.

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