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Incontinence Q&A

Is it normal to leak urine when I laugh or sneeze?

It’s not uncommon to have some leakage as you get older, but it’s not something you have to live with. You may be able to deal with small leakages, but over time it can become more severe. Urinary incontinence can range from manageable leaks that are absorbed with a panty liner to urges to go to the bathroom that are so strong, you can’t make it to the restroom in time.

Why am I incontinent?

Your doctor can’t be sure what’s behind your incontinence without thorough examination and testing, known as urodynamics. During such testing, the doctors examine the function of your bladder, sphincters, and urethra. You’re usually a candidate for such testing if you have:

  • Leaking urine
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Sudden urges to urinate
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Problems starting urine flow or problems emptying completely

What kind of tests are involved?

The tests ordered depend on your symptoms and severity of incontinence. The doctors can evaluate how much urine your bladder holds, if it empties completely, if it has a leaky release valve, and if you have a normal flow rate. The tests are usually minimally invasive, involving a catheter or ultrasound. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of measuring the pace and volume of flow.

How can incontinence be treated?

Treatment, of course, depends on the underlying cause. Our doctors can help you modify your behavior and offer medications to ease urinary incontinence. Simple actions, such as learning to completely empty your bladder or scheduling regular trips to the restroom, are often recommended first as they are easiest to implement.

Our staff may also teach you specific pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the small muscles that control urge and flow to help you gain more control. If necessary, oral or topical medications may be prescribed to help you control feelings of urgency and relax the bladder muscle. Injections of botox or a bulking agent are also sometimes used. In some cases, the doctors may recommend a medical implant or surgery to correct the problem. Slings and prolapsed surgery are examples.