Infections and other problems are common
Everyone knows that the body changes with time. It’s expected. Often, however, I hear from my female patients that they did not expect the changes that they’ve noticed in their urinary system, which for many, have significantly affected their lifestyle. Age increases the risk of urinary tract infection, overactive bladder, incontinence and prolapse. A decline in sexual health often accompanies these issues.
Urinary tract infections are extremely common and increase in incidence with age. Women are much more susceptible than men. Many times there are symptoms to suggest infection, but in some instances this is not always true. Infection can cause or worsen many other urinary problems, and, therefore, this is one of the first things a physician will check when there is a bladder complaint.
As many as 40 percent of women in the United States deal with symptoms of overactive bladder and the incidence increases with age. Overactive bladder is the sudden uncontrollable urge to urinate. Sometimes this can be accompanied by urinary accidents. In mild cases this can be a nuisance but in more severe cases can lead to embarrassment, resulting in lifestyle changes and in some, isolation. Often, a simple visit to a physician is all that is needed to diagnose and successfully treat the problem. Behavior modification and medicine may be all that’s needed in many cases. In more advanced cases, a urologist can perform simple office-based tests in order to assist in making the diagnosis. In situations where medicine may not alleviate the problem, many other treatment options are available. These may include Botox therapy or nerve stimulation.
Stress incontinence is a different type of leakage than what occurs with overactive bladder. Stress incontinence is the unintentional leakage or urine that occurs with physical activity such as coughing, sneezing, or running or lifting. It is caused when the pelvic floor muscles and urinary sphincter muscle weaken. Pelvic floor muscle exercises, injectable bulking agents or minor surgery are often very successful.
Most women experience menopause in their early 50s. Symptoms associated with menopause often begin years prior and tend to become more pronounced with time. As a result of menopause, the reproductive hormone levels decrease. This causes a change in the pelvic floor muscles and tissue that can result in many of the problems already mentioned. For most, sexual health declines. Fortunately, many women can have remarkable improvement with hormonal treatment. For women that cannot or choose not to use hormones, there are office-based treatments such as Mona Lisa Touch laser vaginal rejuvenation that have remarkable results in restoring sexual health.
When evaluating patients with urinary and sexual health problems, I have noticed common issues that have often delayed successful treatment. I often hear that patients say that they were embarrassed to discuss these problems with their physicians, and others relate that they were unaware that the problems could be quite easily treated. These issues may be part of the aging process, but their impact on quality of life can be overcome. If you think you may have any of the symptoms of overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, or even decline in sexual health, call to make an appointment with your trusted physician. A simple solution could drastically improve your life.
Dr. Kevin Cline is a board-certified urologist at Regional Urology in Shreveport, La. He received post-graduate training in several areas pertaining to female urology, such as urodynamics, interstitial cystitis and Interstim therapy. He also serves as a national proctor for the training of other physicians in the use of the Interstim device which is used in the treatment of voiding dysfunction. He sees patients in Shreveport, La., and West Monroe, La.