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.
Gotta go all the time? The technical name for your problem is frequent urination. In most people the bladder is able to store urine until it is convenient to go to the toilet, typically four to eight times a day. Needing to go more than eight times a day or waking up in the night to go to the bathroom could mean you're drinking too much and/or too close to bedtime. Or it could signal a health problem.
Urinary incontinence is an inconvenient, sometimes embarrassing health problem. But living with it 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 Continenceis 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 it.
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 it 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.
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 the condition more tolerable.