New Resource Helps Women Take Control of Urinary Incontinence

Over 25 million Americans experience urinary incontinence; most of them are women. Urinary incontinence (UI) is the inability to maintain control over the release of urine from the bladder. Women who suffer from this problem often withdraw from social connectedness and physical activity—both of which are so important for healthy aging. Yet many people think UI is “just part of growing older,” and that nothing can be done.

To dispel this notion, and to help women who are living with UI take charge of their own treatment, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHQR) recently released an online, interactive decision-making tool to help women learn more about the causes and treatment of UI. (http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/ehc/decisionaids/urinary-incontinence).

The decision aid materials include easy-to-understand information and four sensitive, informative videos. For example, the well-known Kegel exercises are helpful for many women, but patients often leave the doctor’s office in embarrassment, clutching a sheet of how-to instructions that don’t adequately explain the correct technique—which is especially serious because performing these exercises incorrectly can actually make the problem worse. The AHQR offers a five-minute video of detailed instructions that women can watch in the privacy of their own homes. Other features of the site include a comparison of treatments and a list of questions patients should ask at medical appointments.

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