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3 Common Conditions Women Don't Talk About: Incontinence, Lack of Desire and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Overcoming Incontinence Symptoms continued...

One treatment option for incontinence symptoms is to wear panty liners or protective garments if the urine leakage is small. You can also start performing Kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback training is sometimes given in combination with pelvic floor training.

Injection of a bulking agent around the bladder neck and the urethra (urine-carrying tube) can help reduce stress incontinence, Zyczynski says. Another option is a surgical procedure in which a strap of natural tissue or other materials helps support the urethra.

Overcoming Irritable Bowel Syndrome

One in five adult Americans is affected by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to the Digestive Disease Clearinghouse of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The problem is more likely to strike women than men. Half of those who suffer are affected before age 35.

As the name implies, irritable bowel syndrome is no fun. The condition is marked by diarrhea, constipation, or both at different times, as well as abdominal cramps, pain, and bloating.

Yet few patients discuss irritable bowel syndrome symptoms with their doctor, at least initially, says Peter Galier, MD, associate professor of medicine at the UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and former chief of staff at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center  "Bowels are not the happiest subject to talk about," he says.

Up to 70% of those who have IBS don't get medical care, according to the NIH.

Experts have not yet found a specific cause for IBS, although some believe those who suffer have a colon (large bowel) that is very sensitive to certain foods and to high stress levels.

Most likely to be affected are people with hard-driving personalities and those under extreme stress. "All the symptoms tend to be aggravated by stress," Galier says.

Once irritable bowel syndrome symptoms really interfere with daily activities, women are more likely to broach the subject with their doctor, Galier says. Some people seek help because they worry that IBS symptoms are an indication of, or could lead to, colon cancer -- although that is not the case.

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