Bladder & Bowel

Bladder & Bowel Articles

Overcoming urinary leakage

Involuntary leakage of urine (incontinence) in men often traces to either damage from prostate surgery or physical changes in the bladder that trigger a sudden, strong need to urinate (urinary urgency) with involuntary loss of urine. After assessing the underlying causes, a doctor can suggest strategies to reduce leakage incidents. This may include strengthening the muscles beneath the bladder, in the pelvic floor. Medication may also help. (Locked) More »

Pelvic organ prolapse: You're not alone

About half of women over 50 have pelvic organ prolapse, which may cause discomfort, incontinence, or pain during sex. Specialists in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery can customize therapy to relieve your symptoms and accommodate lifestyle. (Locked) More »

Step-by-step guide to performing Kegel exercises

Doing Kegels right means find your pelvic floor muscles and working them. Kegel exercises won't help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward warding off incontinence. These exercises were developed in the late 1940s by Dr. Arnold H. Kegel, an American gynecologist, as a nonsurgical way to prevent women from leaking urine. They also work for men plagued by incontinence. More »

Celiac disease

Celiac disease (also known as non-tropical sprue, celiac sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is a genetic, autoimmune disease. The immune system mistakenly recognizes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, as "foreign." When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, the immune system attacks the gluten when it gets into the small intestine. As the immune system wages war against gluten, it damages small, fingerlike projections in the small intestine called villi. Villi that make it easier for the body to absorb nutrients from food. As villi become eroded and flattened, they have trouble absorbing nutrients. The result is diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as a host of health problems related to malnutrition, including weight loss, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, and nerve problems. More »

How to perform Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises are a great way to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. Doing this can help prevent stress incontinence, the leakage of urine when coughing, laughing, lifting a heavy object, or doing something else that puts pressure on the bladder. To perform a Kegel, you first need to find your pelvic floor muscles and then repeatedly contract and relax them. Locate your pelvic muscles. Pretend you are trying to avoid passing gas; if you are a woman, you can pretend to tighten your vagina around a tampon. Both actions involve the pelvic muscles. You will feel the contraction more in the back than the front, like you are pulling in the anal area. More »

Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence is the leakage of urine out of the bladder when you jump, cough, sneeze, laugh, lift a heavy object, have sex, or do anything else that puts pressure on the bladder. Often only a small amount of urine leaks out, although in more severe cases, the pressure of a full bladder overcomes the body's ability to hold in urine. Stress incontinence occurs when the urethral sphincter, the pelvic floor muscles, or both of these structures have been weakened or damaged and can't dependably hold in urine. This can happen due to: Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence in women. More »

Types of urinary incontinence

Many things can go wrong with the complex system that allows us to control urination. Incontinence is categorized by the type of problem and, to a lesser extent, by differences in symptoms. If urine leaks out when you jump, cough, or laugh, you may have stress incontinence. Any physical exertion that increases abdominal pressure also puts pressure on the bladder. The word "stress" actually refers to the physical strain associated with leakage. Although it can be emotionally distressing, the condition has nothing to do with emotion. Often only a small amount of urine leaks out. In more severe cases, the pressure of a full bladder overcomes the body's ability to hold in urine. The leakage occurs even though the bladder muscles are not contracting and you don't feel the urge to urinate. Stress incontinence occurs when the urethral sphincter, the pelvic floor muscles, or both these structures have been weakened or damaged and cannot dependably hold in urine. Stress incontinence is divided into two subtypes. In urethral hypermobility, the bladder and urethra shift downward when abdominal pressure rises, and there is no hammock-like support for the urethra to be compressed against to keep it closed. In intrinsic sphincter deficiency, problems in the urinary sphincter interfere with full closure or allow the sphincter to pop open under pressure. Many experts believe that women who have delivered vaginally are most likely to develop stress incontinence because giving birth has stretched and possibly damaged the pelvic floor muscles and nerves. Generally, the larger the baby, the longer the labor, the older the mother, and the greater the number of births, the more likely that incontinence will result. More »

Preparing for a colonoscopy

If you shudder at the thought of having a colonoscopy to check for hidden colon cancer, chances are it's the "prep" that's stoking your apprehension. It's certainly a major inconvenience: getting ready for the procedure takes much longer — an average of 16 hours, according to one study — than the three hours or so you'll spend at a medical center the day of your colonoscopy. But what's most off-putting is the purgative part: taking a powerful bowel-clearing substance and coping with the resulting diarrhea. It's worth the hassle. Colonoscopy can spot small colon cancers while they are treatable and before they have spread to other parts of the body. It can also detect and remove polyps, small growths that can develop into colon cancer. Colon and rectal cancers (known together as colorectal cancers) are the third most common type of cancer in men and in women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Emptying the contents of the colon is a key requirement for a successful colonoscopy. If the bowel prep isn't up to par, polyps and lesions can be missed; the colonoscopy may take longer (increasing the risk of complications); or the whole process may need to be repeated or rescheduled, meaning another round of bowel prep. More »