St. Louis' West County Plastic Surgeons Explains Causes and Symptoms
While the bladder is responsible for holding and releasing urine at the appropriate times, it only works well when its literal support system is functioning properly. Pregnancy, childbirth, and hormone fluctuations can weaken that support system, leading to urinary incontinence. St. Louis' West County Plastic Surgeons team meets with women who are tired of wondering whether they will have a little accident when they exercise, sneeze, or even simply laugh.
Urinary incontinence can be a symptom related to vaginal atrophy, and there are both surgical and nonsurgical solutions that can help with urinary incontinence relief. This page is devoted to the problem of incontinence itself: its causes, signs, and symptoms.
West County Plastic Surgeons is committed to helping women get a better quality of life by addressing urinary incontinence in St. Louis at Washington University. Come in for a consultation to discuss the problem of incontinence—and its possible solutions. Call (314) 996-8800 or send a message online.Request Your Consultation
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Simply put, urinary incontinence is the inability to properly prevent urine from escaping the bladder when it's not supposed to. The condition is often broken into multiple types: stress (leakage caused by physical pressure on the bladder), urge (a sudden, unexpected need to urinate), overflow (ongoing dribbles from a never-empty bladder), functional (inability to physically get to the toilet properly), and mixed (some combination of the above).
For many women facing this condition, the problem is stress incontinence, which causes a small amount of urine to leak out when the bladder is jostled, such as during jogging, lifting a heavy object, or coughing. This is something that can manifest after vaginal childbirth.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
There are numerous reasons people may find themselves dealing with urinary incontinence, with possibilities ranging from disease to aging. While men and women can both struggle with the problem, stress incontinence in particular tends to be more common in women—especially those who have given birth vaginally.
This is because in the female body, the bladder is supported by the pelvic floor, which can drop lower in the body due to muscle weakness after vaginal childbirth. The muscles and tissues that surround the bladder's opening can weaken, creating a situation that makes it difficult for women to control their own urination. As support for the bladder grows increasingly lax over time or due to trauma (such as multiple childbirths or a sports injury), the bladder is unable to maintain its proper function.
Urinary incontinence is also not uncommon for women who have experienced a hormone shift due to menopause, medications, or other life events that trigger an internal chemical change. Lowered estrogen levels can cause the bladder lining to deteriorate, making it more difficult to hold urine in.
Solutions for Urinary Incontinence
How best to address urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence it is. If, for example, the problem is deemed to be due to infection, antibiotics may be all that is necessary. Stress incontinence as a result of a weakened pelvic floor, muscles, and other tissues can be addressed by encouraging the growth of fresh collagen to create a better support structure for the bladder.
The West County Plastic Surgeons team will work with each woman as an individual to determine the cause of her urinary incontinence and suggest a solution, such as Geneveve™ by Viveve, a nonsurgical treatment that strengthens and tightens vaginal tissues by stimulating collagen growth with carefully applied heat. This is a long-term solution. After a treatment, the collagen grows gradually over time, with women saying they still enjoy the results up to a year after their session. Geneveve™ by Viveve also has the benefit of treating other conditions related to laxity in the vaginal area.
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Dealing with More than Urinary Incontinence?
Women who struggle with urinary incontinence may also find that they are dealing with other symptoms of atrophic vaginitis, a condition that can impact women as they get older and experience a decrease in estrogen. One of the most common symptoms is dryness, which may lead to a drop in libido due to discomfort.
The West County Plastic Surgeons team is prepared to work with each patient who comes seeking help, offering a knowledgeable and compassionate staff who understand the value of discretion. Women can feel confident in sharing their personal concerns, whether related to urinary incontinence or other matters of an intimate nature. The goal is to provide a customized solution that allows every woman to get back to enjoying day-to-day life with minimal disruption.