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Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment of Bladder Problems and Urinary Incontinence in Women

Definition:

Bladder problems are very common. Around 1 in 3 women suffer from incontinence (leakage of urine) at some stage in their life.

Symptoms:

  • Leaking urine when laughing, coughing or sneezing
  • Lack of bladder control (needing to rush to the toilet / know exactly where toilets are in any given moment, known as ‘toilet mapping’)
  • The urge to pass urine too often
  • The urge to pass urine frequently in the night
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Frequent urine infections
  • Pain on passing urine

Diagnosis:

Bladder problems can be extremely embarrassing and have a major impact on a woman’s life. Women are therefore often understandably reluctant to discuss these problems with a doctor. We offer a sympathetic approach to this sensitive and upsetting problem. There is also sensitive advice available at the Bladder and Bowel Foundation.The management of bladder problems starts with a consultation and gentle examination. Sometimes we ask women to complete a ‘bladder diary’ in addition to urine testing. Sometimes it may be necessary to perform a urodynamics test (a test to assess bladder functioning) or cystoscopy (a camera to check the inside of the bladder) to determine the exact nature of the problem.

Treatment:

Depending on the diagnosis, bladder problems can often improve with simple lifestyle changes and targeted pelvic floor exercises. For others, medication may help; injections below the bladder neck (see Urethral Bulking Innovation) may be appropriate, or continence surgery such as the insertion of tapes.

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