Dr. Eduardo Martinez often finds himself treating groups of female friends one after the other, but not by design.
It’s just what happens after women discreetly tell their friends why they’re no longer worried about urinary incontinence.
Soon, her coworkers and friends start to arrive in the physician’s office.
“Often there’s embarrassment and women don’t want to disclose it’s an issue,” says Dr. Martinez, an OB-GYN who specializes in urogynecology at Tidelands Health Women’s Center, which offers care at locations in Myrtle Beach and Georgetown. “Once they start talking and realize how common it is, they feel more comfortable seeking treatment.”
Overactive bladder symptoms can start at just about any age, but they tend to gradually worsen with age and after having children, Dr. Martinez says. The two main issues are stress incontinence, which is when urine leaks during activity, and urge incontinence, in which you have frequent strong and sudden urges, Dr. Martinez says.
You need only look around the grocery store to realize how common the issue is.
“A whole industry is built around it, and there’s an aisle of products addressing it,” he says. “It can be a serious of quality-of-life issue where some women don’t leave their homes for fear of urine leakage. Some wear darker clothes so it’s not noticeable. Some spend money on pads and diapers. Others plan their public outings around the locations of bathrooms.”
Symptoms to look for include an increase in urgency or frequency, leakage of urine and urinating in spurts.
While many of the same symptoms occur among men, too, some issues are anatomically unique to women, such as the bladder dropping toward the vagina because of weakened pelvic floor muscles and ligaments, Dr. Martinez says.
Dr. Martinez says his specialty debunks the common misconception that bladder-related discomfort is just a part of aging and “there’s nothing to be done about it.”
So what can be done? That depends on the severity of the issue and his patient’s preferred approach. Here are the common options patients choose: