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Women often consult their gynecologist or family doctor when they initially experience symptoms of incontinence. This condition refers to difficulty in ability to control and retain urine or feces. Urinary incontinence is much more common.

A Virtua gynecologist will want to take a complete medical and symptom history and perform a physical examination in providing an initial opinion and recommendation for the patient. At that point, the gynecologist may recommend additional testing, followed by various noninvasive treatment options, or the gynecologist may refer the patient to a Virtua urologist for further evaluation and treatment.

Millions of women in the U.S. have symptoms of incontinence. The experienced gynecologist provides a knowledgeable, capable initial consult for this problem as well as conservative care, with referral for evaluation and treatment by a urologist as needed.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence afflicts women more often than it does men. It can take the form of urinary urgency, urinary frequency or urinary leakage, or a mixture of these symptoms. Often mild exertions such as coughing, laughing, sneezing or physical movements can cause pressures on the pelvic organs, resulting in incontinence events. This form of symptoms is referred to as “stress incontinence.” Some individuals experiencing leakage may lose only a few drops of urine at a time; others, may have complete loss of ability to control urination.

Causes of urinary incontinence all have to do with factors that affect the muscles, anatomy and nerves related to the bladder. These include:

  • prolapsed uterus or vagina;
  • loss of cervix due to hysterectomy;
  • infections;
  • pregnancy and childbirth;
  • interstitial cystitis;
  • bladder cancer;
  • neurologic conditions, that compromise nerve function, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke or spinal injury;
  • weight gain;
  • hormonal changes, especially related to menopause.

Any circumstances that weaken or place stress on a woman’s pelvic floor muscles can contribute to urinary incontinence. The bladder pushes down in these cases against the vagina and other structures, and the increased pressure makes it more difficult for the bladder to retain urine.

Testing may include ultrasound, endoscopic examination, urine lab tests and tests of bladder capacity and flow. The specialists can initiate a number of types of noninvasive care for urinary incontinence, including:

  • behavioral techniques;
  • exercise or physical therapy;
  • biofeedback;
  • nerve and muscle stimulation;
  • pessary insertion;
  • medications.

In cases, where conservative care is not adequate, Virtua urologists can offer the latest options in other types of treatments, including surgical procedures to correct urinary incontinence.

Fecal Incontinence

Inability to control bowel movements can have a wide variety of causes. In addition to diarrhea and the effects of chronic constipation, fecal leakage can come from damage to the nerves and muscles of the colon, rectum or anus. This can be the result of physical injury, chronic diseases, or previous surgery. Virtua gynecologists can provide initial assessment and routine medical and lifestyle adjustments, as well as referral to Virtua’s accomplished colorectal specialists for additional conservative care or invasive interventions.

1-888-847-8823 (1-888-568-7337)

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