November is Bladder Health Month. It may seem like a strange thing to dedicate a month to, but bladder health is very important for individuals of all ages who experience bladder conditions that negatively impact their lives. This is especially true for women, who are prone to various bladder conditions at every stage of life.
Bladder health is something many of us take for granted, but if you had a bladder issue, you know how much of your daily routine can be impacted and how important effective, fast-acting treatment can be. In honor of Bladder Health Month, the Urogynecology Center of San Francisco (UGCSF) explains some of the most common bladder conditions, their symptoms and treatment.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in your kidneys, bladder or urethra. UTIs are usually short-term and clear up within a few days or weeks at most. UTIs are very common in women and are treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or groin, painful and/or frequent urination, cloudy, dark, bloody or foul-smelling urine, cramps, vaginal irritation, and fever in more severe cases. Your provider can diagnose a UTI and prescribe antibiotics if needed. UTIs can be prevented by staying hydrated and urinating shortly after intercourse. There are some natural supplements that can also help depending on your personal history.
Urinary incontinence is not just a normal part of aging. Urinary incontinence tends to affect women post-childbirth and during menopause, when a woman’s urine leaks involuntarily because her pelvic floor is at its weakest.
There are four types of urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence is when you do something that causes you to leak urine, like sneezing, coughing or laughing. Urge incontinence is when you are unable to make it to a bathroom in time. Overflow incontinence is when your bladder overflows due to an obstruction in your urethra or nerve damage. Mixed incontinence is when you have a combination of any of the above types of incontinence.
The good news is that most cases of urinary incontinence can be treated through lifestyle changes you can do on your own or with treatment from a doctor, such as medication, physical therapy, nerve stimulation, bladder support devices or surgery.