Portland is a very active town, especially in the summer months. Many women are runners, cyclists, or enjoy spending time in the mountains or on the water. Unfortunately, I see a lot of these women because they are leaking urine, which makes it hard to enjoy being outside.
There are a few main concerns women have when they come in to see me:
They worry that they are leaking because they are getting old
They think having kids made them leak
They think they are the only ones who leak
Many women blame the leaking on their age. Most people know an older woman who has had some issues with urinary incontinence-- maybe a grandma or neighbor. It’s true that it is more common in older women, but that is not the whole answer. Urinary incontinence is also common in athletes and women who are active. One study from 2007 showed that about 25% of high school and college women leak during high impact sports. If it can happen to these gals, it can happen to any of us. In addition, 15% of the women were negatively affected by their leaking with a staggering 90% of them reporting they never told anyone about it.
Some women may blame their leaking on their kids. Pregnancy and childbirth are a risk factor for incontinence, as the support to the urethra can definitely be weakened by these two things. Still, women who haven’t had children can leak too.
This last point is probably the most common theme in my incontinent patients-- they think they are the only one who leaks. It can be embarrassing or worrisome, even isolating as women may choose to stop doing the activities they love out of fear they will leak. Urinary incontinence is much more common than you think, and treatment is usually simple. The important thing is to talk to your primary care provider about treatment options or seeing a specialist who you can build a relationship with.
There is no need to feel alone—there are things we can do to help! All of the providers at The Oregon Clinic- Urogynecology are used to talking about leaking and specialize in offering all of the available treatments, from lifestyle changes to medication and from pessaries to surgery.