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Do You Leak?  What Is Incontinence?

Have you ever leaked urine?  If so, you are not alone.  Bladder leakage-or incontinence-affects more than 10 million American women. . .most of whom have never even discussed this with their physicians.

In most cases, incontinence starts gradually over time and increases, often to the point of causing women to stop doing many of their normal activities.  There are several different types of incontinence, however, with different causes, different mechanisms, and different treatments.  The most common cause is stress incontinence, which often accompanies coughing, sneezing or physical activity without warning.  Although this condition is more common among older women, one third of women with this problem develop it before age 35. 

Women with urge incontinence have a sudden urge to void and may just not get to the rest room on time.  Good news for these patients is that there are now new medications and even a minimally invasive surgical procedure available to treat this condition depending upon the type of incontinence you have. 

How do you know if you have a bladder problem?  Urinary leakage under ordinary circumstances is NOT normal and should be called to your doctor's attention.  Likewise, any blood in the urine is not normal and should be evaluated.  Also, if you have recurrent urinary or vaginal infections, this should also be evaluated.

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Created: 6/14/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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