Urinary incontinence means any involuntary leakage of urine.
While it might not be something many of us talk about very often, it’s actually very common and can affect men and women, particularly as we get older.
A lot of the time, urinary incontinence is not a sign of anything medically serious, but we appreciate that it can have a significant psychological and social impact as well as being frustrating to live with, possibly affecting your self-confidence, relationships and the activities you participate in too.
The good news is, there is a lot we can do to help. No matter how mild or severe your symptoms, there is nothing to be embarrassed about and nobody experiencing urinary incontinence should suffer in silence or feel the need to just ‘put up’ with the problem.
A number of things can cause urinary incontinence. Among the most common types are ‘stress incontinence’, which affects around one in three women aged 40 and over and causes urine to leak when things like coughing, sneezing, jumping or laughing put pressure on the bladder. Another common form is ‘urge incontinence’, where you’re no longer able to hold your urine as well and the urge to pee becomes very sudden, and leakage can occur. However, some people simply experience an increased urge and frequency without any leakage, which is often known as an ‘overactive bladder’.
These often develop due to damage or weakness within the pelvic floor muscles, possibly related to childbirth or age. An increased urge to pee, particularly at night, can also be very common in men aged 50-plus, often linked with prostate enlargement.
If urinary incontinence is affecting your life, or you’ve noticed a change in your toilet habits, the specialists at Hadley Wood Hospital can help determine the root cause. This can sometimes be done based on your symptom history, although we can also arrange tests and scans where necessary, and if other conditions need to be ruled out.
It’s often possible to manage urinary incontinence through lifestyle measures, such as losing weight if you are overweight, bladder retraining and pelvic floor exercises. These can be highly effective, particularly for women with mild to moderate stress and urge incontinence. Our specialists and physiotherapists will be able to guide you on these. Anti-cholinergic medication to calm down the bladder can sometimes also help with urge incontinence.
If these don’t help, we are also able to perform a number of more involved minimally-invasive treatments, including TVT sling surgery and Botox injections for urinary incontinence. These are usually performed on a day case basis and, while not 100% effective in all cases, can provide significant longer-term relief. Our consultants will be able happy to advise on the most suitable treatment options for you, and any associated risks and benefits.