About 12 million adults in the U.S. have some form of urinary incontinence. Women are affected more often than men, and while incontinence is more common in older people, it also affects younger people.
Among the most common types of urinary incontinence are stress incontinence, which can cause leaking urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze, and urge incontinence, in which a sudden urge to urinate often makes it difficult to make it to the bathroom in time.
You're toiling on the treadmill, Stairmaster, or recumbent bicycle -- and the accident happens: a little urinary incontinence. Small leaks can occur whether you're a teen or a woman in her 20s and upward. Often incontinence starts after childbirth or as the result of athletic injuries. Some men have incontinence problems after prostate surgery.
"Unfortunately, people [with incontinence] stop doing things they enjoy, like high-impact aerobics," says Roger Dmochowski, MD, a urologist and director...
Urinary incontinence is an inconvenient, sometimes embarrassing health problem. But living with incontinence can be made easier, if you're willing to put in just a little effort.
Here's how you can cope with incontinence:
Educate Yourself About Urinary Incontinence
A number of reputable organizations can help you obtain credible information about urinary incontinence, including:
The National Association for Continence is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that provides educational information about urinary incontinence, incontinence products and services, and can help you find a doctor who specializes in treating urinary incontinence.
The American Urogynecologic Society is involved in research and education about incontinence and other urogynecologic conditions. They offer educational information about incontinence and referrals to urogynecologists -- gynecologists who have extra training in female urologic conditions.
Check Out Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence
Treatment options for urinary incontinence are plentiful, and the outlook is far from dismal. About 80% of those who are affected by urinary incontinence can get better with treatment. But, to make living with urinary incontinence easier, you must seek help.
Treatment options depend on the type of incontinence you have and how severe it is. Sometimes a simple dietary change, such as cutting back on fluids, is all that is needed to put an end to urinary incontinence.
But more often, you will need a combination of approaches to get relief. For instance, for stress incontinence, you may be advised to do Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and use panty liners or pads to prevent excess leakage.
For more severe urinary incontinence, your doctor may recommend prescription medication or a surgical procedure, such as an operation designed to support the bladder and prevent leakage of urine, to make living with urinary incontinence more tolerable.