Discussing the aging process for women with Jane Harrison-Hohner R.N., R.N.P.
By Jane Harrison-Hohner
Jane Harrison-Hohner R.N., R.N.P. joins us for a discussion on what to expect as your body and mind age. The process, the pitfalls and the peaks.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live. Today's discussion is on the Aging Process for Women, with Jane Harrison-Hohner. Harrison-Hohner, RN, RNP, is a nurse practitioner who has worked as a women's health care specialist for 15 years. Today she will discuss what occurs as the body and mind age -- both pitfalls and peaks.
The advice provided by Jane Harrison-Hohner is hers and hers alone and does not necessarily reflect that of WebMD. If you have any medical questions about your health, you should consult with your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
Moderator: Hello and welcome, Jane, to the program it's a pleasure having you here with us
Harrison-Hohner: Good day, everyone.
While we are waiting for other questions to be asked, let's begin with some questions already received about treatment options for female urinary incontinence. One woman has asked about Detrol, the heavily advertised treatment for incontinence. As the sufferer of urinary incontinence, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to get a correct diagnosis. We know 15 to 30 percent of older women who are not in nursing homes or other facilities have incontinence. But did you know that incontinence is a problem for 9.5 percnet of younger women aged 15-35?! This is a common problem for many women and, too often, they delay getting a correct diagnosis.
The most common type of incontinence is stress incontinence (SI). The symptoms of SI are a loss of urine with coughing, laughing, sneezing, lifting a heavy object, anything that increases pressure waves transmitted down through the abdomen. Causes for SI can be things like having a number of vaginal births, being post partum, having a prolonged second stage of labor ("pushing"). Some women who have never had these common risk factors get SI, often with the hormonal changes that cause a lower estrogen level (e.g., menopause, breastfeeding). SI can be treated by the woman herself using the Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles around the bladder neck.
Moderator: What about for the younger women who haven't experienced births and have urinary incontinence (sudden feeling of having to urinate)?
Harrison-Hohner: Moderator, what you are describing is the second most common type of incontinence -- called detrussor instability (DI). While SI is an anatomical or structural problem -- the neck of the bladder loses it's angle so the urine runs out easily, DI is more of a neurological problem, like overactive bladder, or spastic bladder, as some women describe it. Instead of being triggered by cough/laugh/sneeze, DI happens when the bladder starts to contract inappropriately, for example, when you start to wet yourself while you are trying to get to the bathroom or are trying to get your pants down.. Some women report this sudden urge to void as soon as they are at the front door of their house trying to get the key into the lock! In some ways, DI is worse to have because you may not have a warning like knowing when you are going to sneeze, so you cross your legs! DI can be treated by a trial of "freeze and squeeze." Stop. Pull up tightly on the vaginal opening muscles. While this technique helps SI by trying to re-establish a less open exit for the urine, for DI, this technique stops errant bladder contractions, too.
DebbieDavis_WebMD: I am 32 and I think I have DI. It happens randomly, like if I'm in a movie and I worry about having to get up and go, sure enough, within a little while, I'll feel like I have to. It seems like it's psychological.
Harrison-Hohner: Debbie, you have made an important discovery! Yes, DI does have more of a neuro-psychological cause than the structural problem with SI. That's why for some women, self treatment of DI involves some retraining of the urges. Freeze and squeeze doesn't change the amount of urine in your bladder (which often isn't that much!) Additionally, some foods and drinks are noted to worsen DI.. A partial list might include caffeine, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners (oh no - diet pop), alcohol, fruit juices or things with high acid content, and more. Debbie, you could start with lifestyle stuff and if that didn't work, then you could be a candidate for the anti-spasm medications -- of which Detrol is just one of the most recent. By contrast, if SI isn't helped with muscle strengthening (and you can get a physical therapist who is trained in this specialty who can prescribe a machine with a vaginal wand that stimulates your muscles while you watch TV). Then your best bet is evaluation for surgery. DI is not to be treated surgically!!!
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