It’s embarrassing to discuss, but don’t let incontinence stop you from being active.

Incontinence can have a negative impact on your quality of life — but only if you let it. Don’t think you are alone; the inability to control bladder function is common. More than 13 million Americans suffer from it, and women are twice as likely as men to be incontinent.

The USC Institute of Urology at Keck Medicine USC is a world-class program offering leading edge treatments for patients who suffer from this condition.

Causes of Incontinence

Incontinence happens when your bladder is weakened, either from a trauma like childbirth or from nerve damage like a spinal cord injury. Menopause, pelvic surgery, neurologic diseases, back injuries, cancer and even aging can lead to incontinence.

5 Types of Incontinence

There are five types of incontinence:

  • Urge Incontinence is caused by an unstable bladder that makes you feel an immediate urge to go to the bathroom. This condition is common in older adults.
  • Stress Incontinence happens when something puts involuntary pressure on your bladder, such as coughing, laughing, running, or sneezing. Men who have had prostate surgery also experience stress incontinence.
  • Mixed Incontinence, a combination of urge and stress incontinence, is the most common of all incontinence problems in older women.
  • Overflow Incontinence occurs when the bladder or bowel becomes too full and cannot empty completely. Oftentimes it is caused by an injury or obstruction. An enlarged prostate may cause overflow incontinence.
  • Fecal Incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements. Weakened muscles from surgery, disease, or age may cause this type.

Treatment Options

The physicians at Keck Medicine of USC recommend several leading-edge treatments for incontinence. Noninvasive treatments include:

  • Kegel exercises
  • Pelvic floor behavior therapy
  • Botox injections to treat overactive bladder

If initial therapies do not work, surgical options may be advised. We have a team of urologists, gynecologists and colorectal surgeons who work together to create a multidisciplinary approach to your treatment.

Preventing Incontinence

Once your incontinence has been eliminated, there are steps you can take to ensure it stays away. Get plenty of exercise, eat a well-balanced diet, watch your weight, don’t smoke and limit caffeine and alcohol.

If you have experienced any form of incontinence mentioned, consult with your medical provider sooner than later about your options.

Schedule a visit with one of the world-renowned specialists at the USC Institute of Urology at Keck Medicine USC to learn more about treatments and how they might benefit you. If you are in the Los Angeles area, make an appointment by calling (800) USC CARE (800-872-2273) or visiting http://urology.keckmedicine.org/.

By Heidi Tyline King