Women’s Health Month
This May, the UCA Women’s Center will join doctors and medical professionals nationwide to commemorate National Women’s Health Month, which aims to encourage women of all ages to make their health a top priority. When it comes to urologic health, it’s not uncommon for many women to simply ignore issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction, overactive bladder or urinary incontinence, as they may not be aware that their pain is in fact highly treatable. In honor of Women’s Health Month, the experts at the UCA Women’s Center want to shift focus to the issues most commonly affecting women’s urologic health.
We’ve all experienced that “gotta go” sensation at one time or another. For those living with an overactive bladder (OAB) condition, that “gotta go” feeling is part of their everyday life, as the primary symptom of OAB is a frequent urge to urinate, regardless of the time of day or night. OAB is most common in women – statistics show that approximately 40% of women in the U.S. experience OAB symptoms, with recent studies showing 46% of African-American women having experienced OAB symptoms in their lifetime. There are a variety of potential causes for overactive bladder symptoms, including caffeine intake, drinking habits, or as a result of taking certain medications. In addition, urinary tract infections and hormonal changes can also result in an overactive bladder.
The first line of defense against OAB is to make adjustments to your diet and exercise regimen. Cutting down on diuretics like caffeine, alcohol and soda, as well as limiting certain foods like citrus fruits and chocolate, can help reduce bladder irritation. Performing daily kegel exercises will help strengthen the pelvic floor, resulting in an improvement in symptoms. In more severe cases of OAB, a doctor may recommend medication (antimuscarinics and beta-3 agonists) or another treatment option like bladder Botox treatment or an implantable bladder pacemaker.
For more information on OAB, visit www.ucawomenscenter.com/problem/overactive-bladder-oab/
Urinary incontinence – the unintentional leaking of urine after laughing, sneezing, or coughing – affects nearly 1 in 4 women over the age of 40. This form of incontinence is commonly found in women who have had children, as the changes the body goes through to accommodate the baby during pregnancy puts significant pressure on the bladder. In some cases, incontinence is a result of the pelvic muscles becoming significantly weaker from the amount of stretching they must do during the child birthing process, resulting in pelvic organ prolapse.
Treating incontinence involves a combination of diet and lifestyle changes. Diet changes such as reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, limiting fluid intake before bedtime to prevent nighttime urine leakage and maintaining a healthy body weight can all work to improve incontinence symptoms. On top of regular exercise to maintain body weight, Kegel exercises that aim to strengthen the pelvic floor are proven to significantly reduce incontinence symptoms.
For more information on incontinence, visit www.ucawomenscenter.com/problem/female-incontinence/
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
The pelvic floor is essential to bladder and bowel control, as it is these muscles that support the bladder, rectum, and vagina. The pelvic floor also plays a role in healthy sexual function. When the pelvic floor muscles become irritated or disrupted from biological changes like childbirth and menopause, it can result in a series of symptoms including painful intercourse, lower back pain, and difficulty when urinating and/or defecating.
Treatment options include at-home pelvic floor exercises and physical therapy, as well as stool-softening medication to lessen the pain during defecation and vaginal medications to relax the vaginal muscles. In more severe cases, a doctor may recommend trigger point injection therapy, which consists of injecting the pelvic floor muscles with numbing medication and relaxing medication.
For more information on pelvic floor dysfunction, visit www.ucawomenscenter.com/problem/pelvic-floor-disorders/
Make Your Health A Priority
Do your part this Women’s Health Month and schedule a routine check-up appointment with one of our expert urologists at the UCA Women’s Center, located in Homewood Plaza. Our urologists have years of experience and expertise in treating a spectrum of urologic conditions and combined with the testing and treatment resources available at the UCA Women’s Center, you can take comfort in knowing that you are getting the highest standard of care possible. To schedule an appointment, call 205-930-0920 or visit www.ucawomenscenter.com.