Gynecologic Cancer and Urinary Incontinence (UI)
Andrea Branas, MSE, MPT, Andrea Cheville, MD, Lora Packel, M.S.P.T.
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: September 8, 2002
Copyright © 2002 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission in writing from the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
What is Urinary Incontinence (UI)?
A person who cannot control the flow of urine has UI. This means you leak a little urine when you sneeze or cough, or have total lack of control.
Is UI painful?
No. UI is not painful. Call your doctor if you have pain while urinating or when you try to control your urine. Pain when you urinate or general pelvic pain may mean an infection or other problem.
How can I correct or prevent UI?
There are steps you can take and exercises you can do to improve muscle strength and "re-train" your bladder to work correctly.
Set times to go to the bathroom. Most of the time, urination occurs every 3-4 hours. Setting routine times to go to the bathroom may help prevent UI and will re-train the bladder. Stop using or limit caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks and spicy foods. Eliminating these foods may help urination.
Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and can decrease episodes of UI. You will need a doctor, nurse or therapist to teach you how to do Kegel exercises.
Biofeedback and/or electrical stimulation of the pelvic floor can strengthen muscles and re-train nerves. This will help your bladder work better. You will need a doctor, nurse or therapist to teach you how to do biofeedback.
Should I worry if I'm only losing or leaking a little bit of urine?
Yes. Small "leaks" of urine are still UI, and are just as important to have treated as losing large amounts of urine.
With UI, why am I not able to hold in my urine?
After surgery or radiation, nerves or muscles may not work correctly, causing you to lose control over the release of urine.
We have trained therapists to treat your symptoms of UI. Talk to your doctor or nurse about seeing the therapist or for more information.