While it is normal to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed discussing bladder issues such as incontinence, it is important to understand just how common these problems are for aging women. The involuntary loss or leaking of urine is a common syndrome that affects at least 1 in 3 older women, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Symptoms may range from minor issues such as slight bladder leaks to the need for the protection of an adult diaper to prevent the complete and sudden loss of bladder control. Chief of Surgery for Emory University Hospital and Division Director for Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Gina Northington, MD, PhD informs her patients that while common, “Bladder leakage is NOT normal aging. There are often functional problems of the nerves and muscles within the pelvic floor that can be treated to improve bladder control.”

Sana Ansari, MD who treats patients at both Emory Johns Creek Hospital and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital agrees, “No matter the severity of the urinary incontinence, if the incontinence is affecting your life and relationships in any way, then it’s time to take control and do something more about it.”

Knowing the various types of urinary incontinence can help you have a discussion with your doctor and ultimately identify the appropriate treatment plan for you:

• Stress incontinence: leaking of urine when laughing, coughing, or lifting, which is usually caused by weakened pelvic muscles.

• Urgency incontinence: the sudden need to urinate that results in large amounts of urine leaking out before getting to the bathroom.

• Overflow incontinence: when urine leaks because the bladder has become overly full or doesn't empty all the way.

• Functional incontinence: the natural urge to urinate, but taking too long to get to the bathroom - this can be especially common for those living with arthritis or another type of physical disability.

• Mixed incontinence: having a combination of any of the above types of urinary incontinence – this is very common in aging and older women.

The Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery experts at Emory Women's Center at Findley provide advanced diagnostic and therapeutic options for women with urinary incontinence and overactive bladder. Because we offer our patients coordinated interdisciplinary care that includes primary care physicians, gynecologists, urologists, gastroenterologists, and colorectal surgeons we can help our patients or their caregivers have the confidence to address any bladder issues they may be confronting.

When planning your appointment with our urogynecologists here are some tips to help you make the most of your appointment:

• Be prepared by having a list of the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins you take, and a list of your past and current illnesses or injuries.

• Bring a caregiver, friend, or relative to go with you to the doctor. They can help bring up topics or questions you may forget to ask. These support persons can also remind you of things the health care provider said after you leave your appointment.

• Be candid. Your provider wants to know everything you're experiencing. Feel free to discuss your symptoms and how they are impacting your daily life.

Please make an appointment with one of our Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery providers to discuss your bladder treatment options today. Emory Women's Center has four convenient locations to serve you: Emory University Hospital/The Emory Clinic on Clifton Road, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory Saint Joseph's, and Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

Learn More: To find out more about the Emory Women's Center Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery services call 404-778-3401.

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