The bladder is a hollow, muscular organ where urine is stored after it leaves the kidneys. At the bottom end of the bladder is an opening called the urethra, from which urine is expelled.
Problems associated with the bladder are common and affect women of all ages. Although they are usually merely annoying, some bladder problems can get in the way of everyday activities.
You may have a bladder control disorder due to weak pelvic fascia-muscular support, nerve damage, or medications for neurologic problems. But bladder issues may also arise due to falls, fractures, social isolation, reduced physical activity, and blood pressure medications.
At Advanced Urology Institute, we provide safe, effective treatment for women with bladder issues. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary approach to care will ensure proper diagnosis and successful treatment of your bladder condition.
Here are the top five bladder control problems in women:
1. Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common problem that occurs when bacteria get into the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the ureters, bladder, urethra, or even the kidneys. Up to one third of women have UTI by the age of 24, while at least half have a UTI at some point in their lifetime.
As a woman, you are more likely to have urinary tract infections than men because your urethra is closer to the anus, where there are lots of bacteria. Plus, your urethra is shorter, and the bacteria don’t have to travel a longer distance to cause an infection.
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- burning pain when you urinate
- fever and chills
- pressure and pain in the back or lower abdomen
- passing small quantities of urine
- cloudy, bloody, dark-colored, or strange-smelling urine
When left untreated, the bacteria can move to the kidneys, resulting in serious health risks and consequences. Consider seeing your doctor as soon as possible to prevent further risks of infection or more severe disease. Your doctor will take a urine sample to find out if you have a bacterial infection. Then, if you have an infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
Drinking plenty of water can prevent bladder infections and help you get better quickly. If you keep getting bladder infections, your doctor may order further tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, to find out what causes it.
2. Urinary incontinence
Urinary incontinence refers to leakage of urine due to loss of bladder control. As a woman, you can have one or both of the two major types of urinary incontinence—stress incontinence and urgency incontinence.
Stress incontinence is urine leakage when you cough, sneeze, laugh or engage in physical activities like running. The leaking tends to stop when the activity stops. This incontinence is common after vaginal childbirth or after surgery involving the pelvic organs.
Urgency incontinence is leakage caused by a strong, intense and uncontrollable urge to pass urine. This incontinence occurs when the muscles of your bladder contract to empty the bladder before you are ready to pass urine.
Urgency incontinence can be due to:
- Urinary tract infections
- Drinking a caffeinated or alcoholic drink
- Too much fluid intake over a short duration
- Chronic bladder infection
- Vaginal infection
- Nervous system disorders
- Bladder cancer
If you experience urine leakage, you need to tell your urologist about it. Your doctor will run tests to identify the type of incontinence and recommend the appropriate treatment.
For stress incontinence, your doctor may recommend exercises to strengthen and retrain your pelvic floor muscles. In some cases, the doctor may also suggest using a pessary or a bulking agent.
For urgency incontinence, medications are prescribed to calm the bladder muscles.
Also called bladder pain syndrome, cystitis is a chronic condition where the bladder is inflamed and irritated. When you have cystitis, you may experience an irritating pressure or soreness in the pelvis area near the bladder, intense pain, and feelings of having to urinate often or urgently.
The causes of cystitis are not well understood, but women with autoimmune problems such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are more likely to have the condition.
When you have cystitis, your urologist will work with you to relieve the pain and other symptoms. You may be given medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to help with the pain. You may also undergo bladder stretching (filling the bladder with liquid) and bladder wash (medicine placed in your bladder to relieve discomfort).
4. Frequent urination
When you pass urine more often than usual—eight or more times per day or multiple times per night—you may have urinary frequency. This condition can worsen to the point of interfering with your life by causing anxiety whenever you are not near a restroom.
You may also have a type of urinary frequency called nocturia—a condition where you have to pee multiple times at night. The condition is inconvenient and interferes with your sleep. It can occur at any age, though it is more common in women over 60.
Urinary frequency can be caused by simple things like drinking a lot of fluid. It can also be due to serious issues like diabetes, congestive heart failure, bladder inflammation, sleep disorders, bladder obstruction, or as a side effect of medication.
Speak with your doctor as soon as you notice you have frequent urination. Medical intervention is critical if urinary urgency is already interfering with your daily life.
5. Blood in urine
Blood in urine, called hematuria, is a common condition where blood is either seen or noticed during a urine test. The blood changes the color of urine to brown, pink, or red. And when there is a lot of blood, you may even notice blood clots and experience some pain.
Blood in the urine can be due to urinary tract infection, injury, extreme exercise, sexual activity, endometriosis, kidney disease, bladder or kidney cancer, or problems with blood clotting. Your doctor will first order a urine test to detect blood in the urine, and then follow up the urine test with other tests such as imaging (CT scan or MRI), cystoscopy, or additional blood tests to help determine the appropriate treatment.
Are you experiencing any symptoms related to the problems mentioned above? At Advanced Urology Institute in Blountstown, FL, we have state-of-the-art facilities to guarantee an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment for your bladder problem. Our urologists are experienced in treating women’s bladder problems compassionately, safely, and effectively.