What's the Difference Between Stress Incontinence and Urgency Incontinence?

Did you know that 40% of women over age 65 have some form of urinary incontinence? Unfortunately, because this sensitive issue can cause embarrassment, many women don’t talk about it with their providers.

Urinary incontinence doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of aging. At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, our experienced OB/GYN providers can diagnose and treat your urinary incontinence as part of our comprehensive gynecological care services. 

Our first step is to determine whether you have stress or urgency incontinence. Our team can then create a customized treatment plan to help you reclaim control of your life.

Stress vs. urgency incontinence

Incontinence refers to the inability to hold your urine until you’re ready to use the restroom. This condition can lead to leaks and sometimes the full loss of control over the contents of your bladder.

There are two main types of incontinence: stress urinary incontinence and urgency urinary incontinence. Some women have a combination of both types, called mixed urinary incontinence. 

Stress urinary incontinence

Stress incontinence, the most common form of urinary incontinence, is more likely to affect younger women. Stress incontinence happens when the muscles that support your bladder and urethra weaken. Because of this weakening, urine can leak if pressure is placed on the bladder. 

Symptoms include leaking a little urine when you laugh, cough, or engage in exercises, such as running, jumping, or dancing. It can also be caused by the physical stress of pregnancy and childbirth. Furthermore, it can be caused by age-related vaginal atrophy, a condition in which the walls of the vagina become thin, dry, and weak. 

Urgency urinary incontinence 

Urgency incontinence, also called urge incontinence or overactive bladder, is less common than stress incontinence, but it occurs more frequently in older women. Urgency incontinence creates a strong, sudden, and desperate need to urinate, and often leads to leakage. This urge can happen even when there’s not much urine in your bladder. 

This condition is caused by a misfiring of the bladder muscle. The urgency to urinate happens because your bladder muscle (detrusor) begins to contract, signaling the need to urinate, before the bladder is full. This phenomenon is called “detrusor overactivity.” 

Detrusor overactivity can occur due to a variety of conditions, including abnormal nerve activity, muscle spasms, damage to the brain, diabetes, and neurological disease. Most often, there is no identifiable cause for urgency incontinence.

Determining which type of incontinence you have

If you’re suffering from urinary incontinence, be sure to share your symptoms with your provider at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare. Our team will use a variety of tests to evaluate and identify your condition. The exact tests will depend on your symptoms, but they may include:

To help with your diagnosis, try keeping a urination diary. Record how often you leak urine, how often you urinate, and your fluid intake. This information could be vital in helping us identify patterns in your symptoms.

Treating incontinence

At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, we offer customized treatments to address your unique incontinence needs. We offer an expert program of pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor and reduce bladder leaks. 

Other treatment modalities may include a variety or combination of options, such as:

In some cases, surgical intervention may be required if other treatments don’t give you the relief you need. 

At Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare, our team is committed to helping you regain control of your life. Our experts will properly diagnose the root cause of your incontinence and prescribe the right treatment modalities for your unique case. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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