A number of urinary and genital conditions can occur in women throughout the course of their life. Prior knowledge about these conditions as well as early diagnosis is key to prevention and effective treatment.
Overactive Bladder, or OAB, is a medical condition that occurs when the detrusor, a muscle in the bladder, contracts at a higher rate. The increase in contractions causes the frequent urge to urinate multiple times a day. 40% of women live with OAB but may not be aware of the condition for symptoms commonly go unnoticed.
Diseases within the brain and nervous system or women going through menopause are more likely to have OAB. It’s important to seek treatment to relieve symptoms while diminishing the worry of having to find the nearest bathroom.
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition that occurs when the bladder continues to hold urine after your kidneys have filtered it, causing the urge to urinate multiple times a day. Pain is often felt under the belly and women may additionally feel discomfort in the vulva, vagina or behind the vagina.
It is common to rule out other bladder conditions before diagnosing patients with interstitial cystitis. The exact cause of IC is yet to be determined.
Urinary Tract Infection
A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is a common infection that occurs in the lower urinary tract, the bladder or urethra and is mostly diagnosed in women. Pain while urinating is a common symptom for those who have a UTI, as well as blood in the urine. Urinary Tract Infections are easily treatable with the use of antibiotics.
Urinary Incontinence causes loss of bladder control due to the weakening of the pelvic floor (tissues and muscles). The pelvic floor can weaken within women from pregnancy, childbirth, an existing bladder condition or injury. Additionally, menopause and aging can contribute to the weakening of the pelvic floor.
Symptoms consist of uncontrollable leakage that can be triggered from everyday activities such as laughing, coughing, sneezing and exercising.
Urinary Tract Stones (Calculi)
When high levels of certain minerals such as uric acid or calcium gather in your urine, kidney stones may develop over time in the urinary tract. Depending on the size of the stone, they may cause pain, bleeding or an infection.
Kidney stones are more likely to develop when minerals are not correctly diluted by the urine. While kidney stones are more common in men, the likelihood of kidney stones for women has increased. This may be linked to an increased content of salt and protein and urinary tract infections, a common infection for women.
A common, yet treatable cancer for middle-aged men and women, bladder cancer tends to start in the cells that line the bladder, growing abnormally and then eventually forming tumors. Smoking, irritation in the bladder lining, exposure to chemicals, parasitic infections and past radiation exposure increase your chances of being diagnosed.
While there are different types of bladder cancer, urothelial carcinoma is the most common type in the United States, which is caused by abnormal growth in cells within the bladder. Symptoms of bladder cancer include discomfort while urinating, pelvic pain, and blood in the urine. Bladder cancer is likely to reoccur, so it is advised to follow up regularly if you have already been diagnosed.