Get help for these common bladder problems
Leaks when you sneeze or cough. The constant need to go. Ongoing UTIs. While all of these are common health concerns for women, that doesn’t mean you have to live with them. If you’re having bladder, urinary, and pelvic floor health problems, don’t be afraid to bring up the topic with your OB GYN.
Bladder or urinary changes are more likely after pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause. But you have options to help regain control. Get to know about the most common conditions women face and when you should talk to your OB GYN.
Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence. The most common symptom is leaking urine when you put stress on your bladder—like when you laugh, cough, sneeze, lift something, or exercise. According to the Urology Care Foundation, 1 in 3 women will have stress urinary incontinence at some point in their lives.
When these little leaks interfere with your daily life, it’s time to talk to your OB GYN. For many women, small changes you can do yourself help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and improve symptoms. If these don’t help, then your OB GYN be able to recommend medications, devices, or surgery.
The most common symptom of overactive bladder is a sudden feeling that you need to urinate several times a day. This urge may also wake you up multiple times at night. Overactive bladder often causes urge incontinence, where you leak urine due to this urgent need to go. Many women experience both stress incontinence and overactive bladder at the same time.
If you have overactive bladder, your OB GYN may talk to you about strategies to help lessen symptoms, such as managing fluids or reducing caffeine. However, the U.S. Library of Medicine says some women may benefit from medications to help calm the nerves and muscles related to overactive bladder.
Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the urethra and bladder are very common in women. These infections are caused by bacteria, and symptoms include pain or burning with urination, frequent urination, and cloudy or bloody urine. However, if an infection moves to the kidneys, it can be serious. If you have UTI symptoms along with back pain, fever, chills, or nausea, call your OB GYN right away.
While many UTIs resolve with antibiotics, some women may develop recurring UTIs. If you get three or more UTIs in a year or two or more in six months, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends talking with your doctor. You may be able to take preventive medications to help reduce these recurrent infections.
Interstitial cystitis causes chronic pressure and pain in your bladder and pelvic area. It can also cause the frequent need to go. While both men and women can get interstitial cystitis, it is more common in women.
According to the Interstitial Cystitis Foundation, this chronic condition can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms of interstitial cystitis are often similar to other conditions like overactive bladder, UTIs, or pelvic floor disorders. Your OB GYN will likely rule out these other issues before you are diagnosed with interstitial cystitis.
Care for your pelvic floor health
In the end, you can take steps to help improve your overall bladder and pelvic floor health. For example, the Office on Women’s Health says 40% of women with urinary incontinence benefit from Kegel exercises. In these exercises, you squeeze the muscles in your pelvic floor area, hold for a few seconds, relax them, and then repeat several times.
Most importantly, if you’re having bladder or urinary symptoms, visit your OB GYN. He or she can guide you to the right treatment. If you need advanced care, you may also see an OB GYN who is board-certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. These specialists have expertise in numerous urinary disorders, including the most common bladder problems.