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Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine, gas, or feces. There are many types of incontinence, and you may experience more than one at the same time.

Who has incontinence?

More than 25 million Americans suffer from some degree of incontinence, approximately 85 percent of whom are women. More importantly, surveys show that only 1 person in 12 actively seeks help. Those who do seek help wait an average of nine years before taking action.

What are your treatment options?

The treatment that is best for you will depend on the cause of your symptoms. The first step is a checkup with one of our urogynecologists, who:

  • Will take your medical history and examine you
  • May ask you to keep a diary of your symptoms
  • May recommend urodynamics testing, which looks in-depth at how your bladder functions

The good news

In the last few years, significant progress has been made in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of incontinence. If all the people who suffer from incontinence sought and received appropriate help, it is estimated that more than one half could be cured, another third could be helped significantly, and most of the rest could be made more comfortable.

Myths about incontinence

"It's a normal part of aging."

Although aging may predispose you to it, incontinence may be due to treatable causes.

"Nothing can be done about it."

In fact, most incontinence can be cured or helped once the cause is identified.

"Postponing urination is a cause."

Voluntary delay of voiding may be crucial to adult bladder control.

"Surgery is the only way to treat incontinence."

 The problem is often overcome by conservative, nonsurgical therapies.

"Fluid restriction is a good idea in managing incontinence."

Severe fluid restriction compromises bladder capacity and is best avoided.

"Prolapse (the dropping or sagging of the uterus) causes incontinence in women."

Prolapse does not cause incontinence, but is evidence of pelvic muscle weakness or damage, which does cause incontinence.

More information

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