hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


July 25, 2013

Many suffer with incontinence, but help is available

Women affected most by stress incontinence

Editor’s note: The Gazette occasionally publishes columns written by local doctors. One appears here.

Millions of adults in the United States suffer with some form of urinary incontinence, but women suffer most from the type called stress incontinence, which causes urine to leak when they laugh, cough, sneeze or exercise.

It’s usually women over 40 who develop this condition because it is generally caused by childbirth, hysterectomy or menopause.

Incontinence of any type can cause emotional distress and depression, so it’s unfortunate that, due to embarrassment, up to 40 percent of women affected won’t seek medical help.

There is no need to feel embarrassed. Incontinence is a medical condition which with medical and/or surgical intervention, can generally be helped.

The muscles, ligaments, and skin in and around a woman’s vaginal tract act as a support structure to hold pelvic organs in place. Childbirth, hysterectomy and menopause can cause those support structures to weaken, resulting in a condition called pelvic organ prolapse. This means that the bladder, urethra, uterus, vagina, rectum, or small bowel have fallen out of their normal positions.

Without medical treatment or surgery, they can prolapse further, so it’s best to have a conversation with your doctor sooner rather than later.

Pelvic organ prolapse can cause discomfort and pressure, affect sexual function, and affect bodily functions such as urination and bowel function.

Types of pelvic organ prolapse include:

Prolapse of the bladder, which happens when the front wall of the vagina prolapses. The bladder may prolapse into the vagina which can cause the urethra to prolapse as well. Urine leakage during coughing, sneezing or exercise is a common symptom.

Prolapse of the rectum, which happens when the back wall of the vagina weakens and the rectal wall pushes against the vaginal wall, creating a bulge which may become noticeable during bowel movements.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • waldron

    James Waldron

    James Waldron was city's first true mayor Posted 19 hours ago 1 Photo
  • The Lamp Post Posted 19 hours ago
  • 140411_hg_hand_fooddrive

    Mayor James Fiorentini visits the food bank at Emmaus Inc. and meets with Emmaus' Americorp/VISTA volunteers Alexandra Elwell, Alison Lee and Gabriella Berger. They organized a food drive to replenish the supply at the bank.

    Emmaus Inc. looks to help the hungry Posted 19 hours ago 1 Photo
  • Haverhill Real Estate Posted 19 hours ago
  • sculpture

    RYAN HUTTON/ Staff photo. Haverhill High School's new sculpture was dedicated April 17.

    The week's news in review Posted 19 hours ago 1 Photo
  • museum

    Courtesy photo Step into the past at the Haverhill Firefighting Museum. A new area, devoted to children, will open there May 3.

    Firefighting museum to unveil child-oriented exhibit Posted 19 hours ago 1 Photo
  • 140412_hg_tje_celebration_02

    TIM JEAN/Staff photo. Vincent Buonanno, of Methuen, and member of their Sons of Italy, speaks before dinner to celebrate the Sons of Italy Victor Emanuel Lodge of Haverhill 75th anniversary of their Drum & Bugle Corps. 4/12/14

    Marching in Posted 19 hours ago 8 Photos
  • Community Television Posted 19 hours ago
  • Haverhill police log Posted 19 hours ago
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
  • 140415_HG_MSC_ROBOT_4

    MARY SCHWALM/Staff photo Jazzy Brown, 4, of Haverhill, works with a a Robot named Connor as Behavior Specialist Julie Bernier looks on, during an interactive session at the Moody School in Haverhill.

    Their best friend's a robot Posted 7 days ago 5 Photos

Photos of the Week