New Guidelines for Managing Urinary Incontinence in Women
Simple interventions can eliminate quality-of-life issues (Sept. 13)
Millions of women experience a loss of bladder control, or urinary incontinence, in their lifetime. Now, new guidelines from doctors at the University of Michigan Health System offer family physicians a step-by-step guide for the evaluation of urinary leakage, to prevent this quality-of-life issue from being ignored.
The guidelines were announced on September 13 and were published in the Journal of Family Practice.
Studies have found that 10% to 40% of women more than 18 years old — and as many as 53% of those over 50 — are affected by urinary incontinence. Among the long list of culprits are childbirth, aging, and obesity. Despite the prevalence of female incontinence, however, busy family physicians may not hear about the problem until well into a visit focused on separate health issues — and some doctors may not feel like they can help.
The new guidelines suggest three simple, immediate steps a physician can take to address the problem while keeping the appointment on track: 1) collecting a urine sample; 2) asking the patient to keep a diary that charts fluid intake and urination; and 3) scheduling a follow-up visit.
By the second visit, the physician will have more information for further evaluation and a management plan. High-yield questions will also classify the type of incontinence being experienced. Questions may include asking how worried patients are that coughing will lead to a leak, how quickly patients need to find a bathroom when their bladder is full, and whether washing hands — or the sound of running water — leads to leakage.
For more information, visit the University of Michigan Web site.