There’s so much about pregnancy that can be wonderful, but there are a few things, like stretch marks and heartburn, that aren’t so great. You may find that one unpleasant result of pregnancy is urinary incontinence.
Dr. Kevin Jovanovic and Dr. Radoslav Jovanovic understand that urinary incontinence can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. They want you to know that you don’t have to just live with it. There are effective treatments.
How your bladder works
As an organ, your bladder is fairly simple. Your pelvic floor muscles hold your bladder in place almost like a hammock. As your bladder fills, it relaxes, and when it’s full it signals your brain. Your brain signals back when it’s time for your bladder to empty. As you empty your bladder, it contracts and is assisted by your pelvic floor muscles.
When urine exits your bladder, it flows through your urethra and out of your body. Most of the time, your urethra is sealed shut by a thick band of muscle called a sphincter.
As simple as the system is, there are lots of things that can go wrong. Your bladder may send signals when it’s not full, so you think you need to go to the bathroom when you really don’t. The sphincter that seals your urethra shut might weaken. Your pelvic floor muscles may weaken, making it difficult for you to fully empty your bladder.
Your bladder during pregnancy
During pregnancy, your bladder and your pelvic floor muscles are under a great deal of pressure. You may find that your bladder doesn’t hold as much as usual, and you need to use the restroom more frequently than usual.
All of that pressure can also weaken the sphincter that holds your urethra closed, allowing urine to leak involuntarily. Your pelvic floor muscles are also under enormous pressure and may be stretched and weakened.
Postpartum bladder issues
After your baby is born, the pressure is gone, but the muscles involved in urination aren’t automatically stronger. You may find that you experience something called stress incontinence, which is the most common form of incontinence.
If you leak urine when you sneeze, cough, pick up something heavy, or do anything else that puts pressure on your bladder, you have stress incontinence. This is more likely to happen if you’ve given birth multiple times, and there are other factors that can affect your bladder as well.
In addition to supporting your bladder, your pelvic floor muscles also support your uterus. Sometimes, after giving birth, your uterus can slide down, a condition called uterine prolapse. Uterine prolapse can put extra pressure on your bladder and lead to stress incontinence.
Treatments for urinary incontinence
The best treatment for stress incontinence depends on the reason you’re experiencing it. In some cases, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can stop the leaking. Learning the proper technique for doing Kegel exercises, as well as doing them consistently is critical for this treatment approach to work.
Sometimes medication is the most appropriate way to treat urinary incontinence. A device called a pessary, which can be inserted and then removed for cleaning, may be a better treatment option. In some rarer cases, surgical intervention is the most appropriate way to stop incontinence.
If you’d like to learn more about how urinary incontinence can be treated, schedule an appointment. Dr. Jovanovic is happy to answer your questions and suggest appropriate treatments for your situations. You can book your appointment online or by calling our office.