Incontinence: It Can Be a Laughing Matter

Incontinence It can be a laughing matter

Do you leak urine when you cough, laugh, or pick up something heavy? If so, you may suffer from urinary incontinence, a very common and very treatable condition affecting one-quarter of women in the U.S.

Unfortunately, many of these women suffer in silence, uncomfortable talking about incontinence, or perhaps unaware that treatment with a urogynecologist is available.'s time to start talking and getting back to doing the things you enjoy.

Understanding Incontinence

There are two most common types of urinary incontinence: stress and urgency.

Stress incontinence is caused by physical activity or movement, such as laughing, coughing, sneezing, walking, exercising, getting out of a car -- anything that puts pressure (stress) on your bladder. You may not experience leakage every time, but the potential is always there, especially when your bladder is full.

Urgency incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, involves the unintentional loss of urine when the bladder muscle contracts. It is often associated with a sense of urgency. Without warning, you may feel a sudden need to urinate.

What Causes Incontinence?

Pregnancy, childbirth and aging, are some of the more common causes of incontinence, but there are others like infection and disease.

The first step in treating incontinence is always to talk with your doctor who will help you determine the best course of action. This may involve medication, physical therapy, or in some cases, minimally invasive surgery. 

Along with talking to a health-care professional, there are some steps you can take on your own to help stop or improve incontinence.

Here Are 5 Tips to Consider:

  1. Watch your diet: Avoid foods or beverages high in acid or caffeine, which can irritate the lining of your bladder. This includes grapefruit, oranges and tomatoes. Keep a diary to help identify foods that may irritate your bladder.
  2. Drink adequate water to keep your urine light yellow or clear.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight can help both types of urinary incontinence.
  4. Get some exercise every day. Strive for 30 minutes most days.
  5. Practice Kegel exercises. These exercises are easy to do, can be done anywhere, and strengthen your pelvic floor.
    • Squeeze the muscles you use to stop urinating for 3 seconds; then relax for 3 seconds. (Note: Don’t do Kegels while you urinate. This could affect your bladder function.)
    • Add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds each time.
    • Repeat this exercise 10-15 times per session, at least 3 times a day.

If you have urinary incontinence, you are not alone. And with the proper treatment, can keep doing the things you love. Start the dialogue today!

author name

Lauren B. Witmer, DO

Lauren B. Witmer, DO, is a urogynecologist with LG Health Physicians Urogynecology & Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Witmer’s areas of expertise include minimally invasive vaginal and robotic gynecologic surgery. She is fellowship trained in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery.
Education: Medical School–University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine; Residency–The Reading Hospital and Medical Center; Fellowship–TriHealth Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati.

Call: 717-544-0700

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The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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