Bladder disorders become more common with age. While many people accept their condition and live with it, even if the issue limits their activities, there are many effective treatments for bladder disorders. At Little Company of Mary Torrance, our specialists work with you to provide personalized care that improves your unique condition.
The leaking of urine, or urinary incontinence, can be a problem for women. However, not all types of leakage are treated the same way. In some women with pelvic organ prolapse, the bladder falls from its proper place in the pelvis, which can increase the risk for leakage, incomplete bladder emptying and recurring infections.
Here are some examples of common bladder disorders.
- Stress incontinence: When pressure increases in the pelvis, urine may leak. This can happen during activities such as exercising, sneezing, laughing and coughing.
- Urgency incontinence with overactive bladder: This occurs when a person has a sudden and strong urge to urinate that cannot be controlled or postponed. Some women can reach the bathroom in time, but the urgency, frequency, or waking during the night to pee is still bothersome.
- Recurring urinary tract infections: Some women with pelvic floor disorders suffer from recurrent urinary tract, or bladder, infections. Urinary tract infections, also called UTIs, are considered a recurring problem if you have three or more infections a year, or two in six months. It is important to properly diagnose infections with a urine culture, and to investigate which antibiotic is effective. Sometimes infections may be resistant to certain antibiotics.
- Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS): This condition causes chronic pain in the bladder and pelvic area, often with sporadic “flares.” Women with IC/PBS may urinate frequently, feel pain when the bladder is full and notice that certain foods trigger flares.
At Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance, we start the diagnosis process with a thorough physical exam. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may want to perform additional tests.
- Urine analysis and urine culture: A sample of urine can be analyzed to look for infection or blood in the urine.
- Postvoid residual: This test, performed with either an ultrasound or a catheter, ensures too much urine left is not left in the bladder after you empty.
- Urodynamics: This test assesses how well your bladder is functioning, how much it can hold, and how pressure in the bladder changes while filling and emptying.
- Cystoscopy: This procedure uses a tiny camera to examine the inside of the bladder.
Treatment for a bladder disorder depends on the cause and severity of the condition. If surgery is required, we offer a wide range of minimally invasive options to ensure a fast recovery.
Your compassionate care team works with you to develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs and preferences.
- Losing weight: Losing weight can lessen pressure on the pelvic floor and decrease urine leakage. You can improve bladder function by losing just 5 percent of your body weight.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking increases the risk of pelvic floor disorders in women.
- Dietary changes: Reducing your intake of caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol, which all irritate the bladder, may help alleviate symptoms.
- Monitoring fluid intake: Decreasing fluid intake, especially in the evening, can reduce leaking and the number of trips to the bathroom.
- Biofeedback therapy: This therapy is used to strengthen or relax the pelvic floor muscles, improving bowel and bladder functions.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises: More than simply Kegels, these exercises involve squeezing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. A physical therapist can teach you how to better control the muscles used to prevent leakage.
- Medication: Your doctor may prescribe medication that works by blocking signals that can cause spasms in the bladder, thereby decreasing urgency, frequency and nighttime awakenings.
- Pessary: A pessary is an option if you have stress urinary incontinence or an overactive bladder. A pessary is a silicone device that’s inserted through the vagina to hold pelvic organs in place and support the urethra, thereby reducing or eliminating urine leakage.
- Posterior tibial nerve stimulation: A thin acupuncture needle inserted in the ankle stimulates the nerve that runs up the leg, near the bladder. Performed in the doctor’s office, this low-risk treatment takes 30 minutes per session.
- Botox injections: Botox injections are sometimes used to treat an overactive bladder. Botox works by relaxing the bladder muscle and increasing the bladder’s storage capacity. Injections can be performed in the doctor’s office or under sedation, depending on your preference.
- Urethral bulking: A bulking agent, typically a paste-like substance, is injected into the urethra’s muscle wall. The bulking agent narrows the urethral tube and prevents leakage. Bulking procedures can be performed in the doctor’s office or under sedation, depending on your preference.
If surgery is required, there are multiple options.
- Mid-urethral sling: A mesh strap, or “sling,” is used to support the urethra. The sling is highly effective at preventing episodes of stress incontinence.
- Sacral neuromodulation: Often called a “pacemaker for the bladder,” the InterStim™ device treats overactive bladder, urgency incontinence, urinary retention and fecal incontinence. After a thin wire is placed in the body, you will wait one to two weeks and see if symptoms improve. If symptoms improve at least 50 percent during this trial period, a small battery is placed under your skin, and you can adjust the stimulation with a remote control.
If surgery is right for you, our specialists work closely with you to determine the best option.