The urinary bladder functions to contain and store urine until there is a convenient time to void or expel this fluid waste from the body.  Regular leakage of urine prior to such appropriate time is universally undesired, and is referred to as urinary incontinence.  Urinary incontinence is at minimum a nuisance, but quite often it can be distressing, disabling, and can in some instances lead to severe infection.  While the problem is costly to society as a whole, it is particularly difficult for the individual patient and her family, and is a leading cause of nursing home admission in the elderly.

In the female there are two main categories of urinary incontinence: genuine stress urinary incontinence (GSUI), and overactive bladder (OAB).  GSUI is characterized by leakage of urine with laugh, cough, sneeze, running, jumping, and exercise.  OAB is generally distinguished by urinary urgency, leaking on the way to the bathroom; frequency, voiding more than seven times during the day; and nocturia, getting up more than two times at night to void.  Along with a thorough history and a focused physical examination, a special office test called urodynamics can help distinguish between these two main causes of urinary stress incontinence.  Although some women will have a combination, it is indeed important to distinguish between these two causes of incontinence because treatment will differ. 

Please click on Dr. Schlafstein's Female Urinary Incontinence article to to continue reading and learn more.


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