When it comes to feeling those tell-tale leaks and dribbles, or the familiar urge to go to the toilet but nothing comes, you might be worried, confused and uncomfortable. There are a wide variety of reasons you might be experiencing bladder leakage or urgency, so keep reading to find out more about the common causes, and what you can do about them.
There are many common causes of bladder urgency in women, though most aren’t particularly serious and can be treated quickly.
One of the most common causes of bladder urgency is an overactive bladder (OAB), which is a condition in which the bladder puts pressure on the urethra to release urine even when it isn’t full. This may be a signal of an underlying condition, or be treated with medication, bladder training or pelvic floor exercises.
Other common causes of bladder urgency include:
- Drinking too much, especially diuretics like alcohol and caffeine.
- Interstitial cystitis, which often appears in conjunction with bladder pain.
- A vaginal infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, thrush or STDs.
- A side effect of certain medications, including diuretics.
- Diseases that affect the nerve endings, such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
- Pressure on the stomach, for example, due to pregnancy or obesity.
- Damage to the muscles around the bladder.
Most of these causes have a simple solution, are easily treated or will go away on their own in time. However, damage to the bladder and the muscles around it, often caused by childbirth or surgery in the area, can be more serious and difficult to treat. Damage to muscles at the neck of the bladder or to the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that hold the bladder) can cause stress incontinence, making it difficult for women to hold urine for long periods of time, and making the sensation of bladder urgency far more frequent.
Stress incontinence is a condition characterised by the feeling of bladder urgency, as well as frequent leaks and dribbles of urine when pressure is put on the bladder, such as when we cough, sneeze, run, jump or lift heavy objects. Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles around the bladder become weakened, often by childbirth, surgery or muscle weakness after menopause.
When women reach menopause, there is a sharp drop in oestrogen and collagen production, which can have many different effects, including a loss of muscle tone all over the body, including in the pelvic floor muscles. This means that when pressure is put on the bladder and urethra the muscles aren’t strong enough to support them.
Estimates from the National Association for Continence tell us that over 200 million people worldwide are affected by some form of incontinence.
Stress incontinence is also very commonly caused by pregnancy and childbirth. While every pregnancy and birth is different, most women who are pregnant or give birth vaginally will experience incontinence or urinary leakage to some degree. For example, during pregnancy, the weight of the baby pressing on the bladder can disrupt the way your bladder and pelvic floor muscles are meant to work, leading to symptoms of stress incontinence. Vaginal birth also affects the pelvic floor muscles, due to the understandable strain the process puts the pelvic floor muscles under.
For most women who have given normal vaginal birth, it is expected that some degree of incontinence is very common, and that normal bladder function will return a few months postnatally. However, if symptoms of stress incontinence persist after birth and are disrupting your life as a parent, it may be worth looking into treatment. Chronic stress incontinence after childbirth is made more likely if you have had a particularly long or problematic birth, given birth to larger babies or had multiple vaginal births, given birth over the age of 35 or are obese or a smoker.
Treatment For Stress Incontinence And Bladder Urgency
The most commonly prescribed treatment for incontinence after menopause are exercises like Kegels, however these are time consuming, difficult and for some women with very weak pelvic floor muscles, can’t actually be carried out.
For many years the only alternatives for women with more severe stress incontinence were surgical options including colposuspension surgery, sling surgery or the controversial vaginal mesh treatment. All of these treatments have long recovery times, an increased potential for complication, the need for general anaesthetic and potential for infection.
However, there is now a new wave of non-surgical treatments available to help treat stress incontinence, including Viveve, available at Battersea Skin and Beauty.
Viveve is unique in the field of vaginal rejuvenation and treatment of stress incontinence symptoms, as it offers radio frequency heating to help improve collagen regeneration, while also cooling to ensure the safety of the treatment, and allowing us to get deeply effective treatment results that actually last.
During Viveve treatment, radio frequency waves are emitted by the treatment device which your practitioner will move gently up and down the vaginal canal. The device works by gently heating the cells in the area which prompts the tissues to produce new collagen. This increase in collagen production over time strengthens the tissues in the vagina and around the neck of the bladder, helping to reduce the symptoms of stress incontinence and reduce the sensation of bladder urgency.
By using both heating and cooling techniques in your treatment, Viveve can reach deep tissues (7mm), which helps to create life-changing results that are more effective and last longer than other non-surgical treatments.
To find out more about stress incontinence, the Viveve treatment and how we can help free you from symptoms of stress incontinence, including bladder urgency, contact the team at Battersea Skin & Beauty today on 020 7228 7773.