October 28th, 2015
Urological problems are widespread. Women tend to experience more problems with the urinary tract more often than men for several reasons. Pregnancy causes the uterus to put pressure on the bladder, which can cause urological problems. A history of gynecologic surgeries, menopause, and obesity can also lead to urological problems. The female urethra is also shorter than men’s, which makes infection more likely. Common problems include:
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are bacterial infections. In premenopausal women, 80% of UTIs happen within 24 hours of sex. However, UTIs are more common in postmenopausal women. UTIs are more common in women than men because women’s urethras are 1.5 inches (compared to 8 inches in men). Symptoms include pain, frequent and urgent urination, blood, and lower stomach pain. Treatment is typically done with antibiotics.
Approximately 40% of women in the United States live with overactive bladder symptoms. An overactive bladder is an issue with bladder ‘storage.’ It causes a sudden urge to urinate and can lead to incontinence. Many women believe an overactive bladder is a normal part of aging but the disruption that unexpected and frequent urination (including nighttime urination) causes is not normal and does not have to be tolerated.
Incontinence refers to the involuntary leaking of urine. There are several types of incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or walk. Urge incontinence happens when you feel the need to urinate but don’t get to the bathroom in time. Overflow incontinence is the dripping of urine, constantly. Incontinence can be very inconvenient and embarrassing. It can be caused by a UTI, medicine, or constipation, but can also be a long-term problem.
Cystocele occurs when the pelvic floor muscles weaken and allow the bladder to drop into the vagina. Childbirth and hormonal changes often lead to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscle, which forms a wall between the bladder and the vagina. The symptoms are discomfort, urine leakage, or incomplete bladder emptying. There are varying stages of cystocele and treatment can range from medications and physical therapy to surgery.
If you experience abdominal pain, bloody or cloudy urine, frequent or urgent urination, chronic UTIs, pain or burning during urination, or urinary leakage, you should see a doctor. Many women feel there is nothing to be done about their urological problems and don’t seek treatment, but a urologist will be able to help you by either prescribing medication, offering home solutions, or recommending surgery.