Female Intimate Health
Intimate Health and Urine Incontinence
As women go through childbearing, hormonal changes and aging, they can experience changes.
Changes that can impact a woman's quality of life include vaginal laxity, stress urinary incontinence, loss of vaginal lubrication, a decrease in erotic sensation and loss of tone of the labia majora.
It’s estimated that about one-third of young and middle-aged women have a sexual health problem. About half of older women have a sexual problem. Sometimes issues with intimate wellness are due to life changes or health conditions.
For women, sexual changes are often a part of aging and menopause. The following are common problems women may have with intimate wellness:
Vaginal Dryness: Vaginal dryness often occurs due to decreasing estrogen associated with menopause. Some medications may also contribute to vaginal dryness. Dryness may result in discomfort and can result in painful intercourse.
Vaginal Laxity: Vaginal laxity is a looseness that occurs in the vagina. It can happen after vaginal childbirth but it may also be associated with menopause or aging. Laxity can cause a loss of sensation during intercourse.
Low Sex Drive: A noticeable drop in sex drive may be caused by physical factors such as hormone imbalance or vaginal discomfort. Other issues related to menopause (fatigue, insomnia, mood swings) can also contribute to low libido.
Urinary incontinence — the loss of bladder control — is a common and often embarrassing problem. The severity ranges from occasionally leaking urine when you cough or sneeze to having an urge to urinate that's so sudden and strong you don't get to a toilet in time.
Though it occurs more often as people get older, urinary incontinence isn't an inevitable consequence of aging. If urinary incontinence affects your daily activities, don't hesitate to see your doctor. For most people, simple lifestyle and dietary changes or medical care can treat symptoms of urinary incontinence.
Many people experience occasional, minor leaks of urine. Others may lose small to moderate amounts of urine more frequently.
Types of urinary incontinence include:
Stress incontinence. Urine leaks when you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy.
Urge incontinence. You have a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. You may need to urinate often, including throughout the night. Urge incontinence may be caused by a minor condition, such as infection, or a more severe condition such as a neurological disorder or diabetes.
Overflow incontinence. You experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to a bladder that doesn't empty completely.
Functional incontinence. A physical or mental impairment keeps you from making it to the toilet in time. For example, if you have severe arthritis, you may not be able to unbutton your pants quickly enough.
Mixed incontinence. You experience more than one type of urinary incontinence — most often this refers to a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
You may feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence with a professional. But if incontinence is frequent or is affecting your quality of life, it's important to seek medical advice because urinary incontinence may:
Cause you to restrict your activities and limit your social interactions
Negatively impact your quality of life
Increase the risk of falls in older adults as they rush to the toilet