An estimated 25 million Americans experience some form of urinary incontinence. If you’re spending more time going to the bathroom than you think is normal, take this quiz to learn more. The answers are at the end of the quiz.
1. Urinary incontinence (UI) is
a) a natural part of aging.
b) more common among women than men.
c) almost always painful.
2. On average, a typical man waits how long from the first time he experiences symptoms until he discusses them with his doctor?
a) 1 year
b) 4.2 years
c) 6.5 years
3. Urine is stored in the bladder. How much can the average adult’s bladder hold?
a) ½ cup
b) 1 cup
c) 2 cups
4. One type of incontinence is stress urinary incontinence (SUI). It can be triggered by
a) watching a funny movie on TV.
b) pressure at work.
c) lack of exercise.
5. Another common type of incontinence is urge incontinence, sometimes known as
b) overactive bladder.
6. The urge to urinate can come from
a) drinking too much water.
b) not drinking enough water.
c) both a and b
7. To relieve urinary incontinence, your doctor might recommend that you limit your consumption of
a) spicy foods.
c) both a and b
8. To treat urinary incontinence, your doctor might recommend exercise to strengthen your
b) pelvic floor muscles.
9. Men often need to go to the bathroom more often after prostate surgery, women after childbirth. What else can contribute to incontinence?
b) lack of sleep
10. To treat incontinence, surgery is
a) always necessary.
b) usually necessary.
c) rarely necessary.
1. b. The number of women who report symptoms of urinary incontinence is about three times the number of men. Although it affects older adults, it’s not a normal part of aging. Typically, urinary incontinence is not painful. If you experience pain or notice other changes when you go to the bathroom—such as blood in your urine—consult your doctor immediately.
2. b. Men experience symptoms of urinary incontinence for an average of 4.2 years before being diagnosed by a physician. Women wait an average of 6.5 years! Delaying treatment won’t make it less effective, but there’s really no reason to wait.
3. c. The average person’s bladder holds about 2 cups of urine. Most people feel the first urge to urinate when the bladder contains just about 1 cup of urine.
4. a. The “stress” in SUI has nothing to do with mental or emotional strain. It refers to stress on the bladder muscles that leads to urine leakage. Strenuous activities—such as lifting heavy objects or a vigorous workout—can create this stress, but ordinary things such as coughing, sneezing or laughing can cause it too. If you’ve ever wet your pants laughing, you know what we mean.
5. b. Urge incontinence is the sudden need to urinate and the inability to “hold it” until you reach the toilet. It can be related to a separate illness or condition, such as a urinary tract infection, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or stroke. If not associated with another condition, it’s commonly called overactive bladder.
6. c. Consuming a lot of liquids increases your need to urinate, so you might be tempted to cut back on your fluid intake if you’re suffering from incontinence. Surprisingly, that’s not a smart strategy. When your body is dehydrated, your urine becomes concentrated, which can irritate your bladder and trigger your urge to go.
7. c. Foods that irritate your bladder can contribute to incontinence. Both chocolate and spicy foods are bladder irritants; as are coffee, tea, soda and citrus fruits and juices. If you experience incontinence, reducing your intake of these foods might help.
8. b. Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles are known as Kegel exercises, named for the doctor who developed them in 1948 for women after childbirth (which can weaken the pelvic muscles). Today, doctors recommend them for women of any age who experience incontinence. They can also be helpful for men. Be patient—it can take a few months to see results, but they do work for many people.
9. a. Being overweight puts pressure on the bladder that can lead to incontinence. Studies have shown that when overweight and obese women suffering from incontinence followed a six-month program to lose weight they reduced their incontinence episodes by nearly one-half.
10. c. For most people, exercise and behavior modification are enough to manage or eliminate incontinence. In addition to Kegel exercises and changes to your diet, your doctor might recommend bladder training techniques that help you cope with sudden urges to urinate. While there are several surgical procedures developed for urinary incontinence, they’re generally not the first course of action in treatment.