Emergency -

University of South Florida

No Time for Incontinence?

A third of all adult women struggle with incontinence, the medical term for the leakage of urine. Depending on the severity of your incontinence, this condition can greatly impact your daily life with constant inconvenience and embarrassment, which could also lead to “Regardless of age, women with incontinence are twice as likely to suffer from depression. The days of isolating yourself and embarrassment are over,” said Dr. Renee Bassaly, an expert in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at USF Health.

There are factors that can contribute to developing incontinence, which include:

  • Age – Weakening pelvic floor muscles can be associated with age.
  • Childbirth – Women who have a vaginal delivery are more likely to develop incontinence than women who’ve delivered via cesarean.
  • Body weight – Being overweight or obese makes you more prone to stress incontinence.
  • Previous pelvic surgery – Hysterectomies or C-sections can contribute to incontinence.

There are two common types of incontinence: urge and stress incontinence:

Urgency Incontinence or “Overactive bladder”

Urgency incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, is when you feel like you need to make a mad dash for the closest bathroom.  The strong sensation to urinate comes on quickly and urgently.

When you experience urge incontinence, your bladder muscles contract before your bladder is actually full.  These muscle contractions cause you to urinate even though your bladder doesn’t need to empty itself yet.

Treatments for urge incontinence include:

  • Physical therapy (Kegels)
  • Biofeedback
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medications
  • Botox injections
  • Nerve modulation therapies

Simple first line treatment options include bladder retraining. Your physician will encourage you to keep a record of how often you urinate. Over a period of time, patients will gradually increase the amount of time between bathroom breaks. The goal is to spread out your trips to the bathroom so you are not going more than every two and a half to three hours.

Another first-line treatment option includes making simple lifestyle changes such as avoiding bladder irritants in your diet. This may include beverages like coffee, teas, sodas, alcohol, foods that are spicy, and acidic fruits.

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is when you laugh, cough, sneeze, or exercise and you accidently urinate. When your bladder is full, any additional pressure from these activities can trigger urination.

This common condition in women is caused by the loss of strength in the pelvic floor muscles and the muscles that allow the release of urine (urinary sphincter).  Similar to urge incontinence, treatments can include physical therapy (Kegels) as well as pessaries or other devices you insert into your vagina that are commonly known as incontinence tampons. Surgery for stress incontinence is another option.

“Urinary incontinence is not a normal part of aging and certainly can be life altering for your quality of life. You do not have to live with these conditions.  If you want to improve your quality of life, you should seek out a specialist to obtain a personalized plan of care for a road to improvement,” Dr. Bassaly said.

USF Health offers specialized care for women who are struggling with incontinence, call (813) 259-8500 to make an appointment with our Urogynecology team. We are dedicated to Making Life Better.

Written By: Kathleen Rogers



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