What is Urinary Incontinence? Different Types, Causes, and How KWELL EM1 (Electrical Muscle Stimulator) Can Help?

Urinary incontinence is common, whether something as minor as sneezing or trying to make it to the toilet. 

Types of Incontinence

Stress Urinary Incontinence

The main types of incontinence are stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and urge incontinence (UI). SUI is leaking (a little or a lot) of urine with any activity that increases the pressure in your abdominal cavity such as sneezing, coughing, laughing, jumping, running, etc.

Photo courtesy of CHI St Vincent

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of symptoms. Some include poor coordination, strength or relaxation of pelvic floor muscles, damage to the pubocervical connective tissue, trauma during delivery, urethral hypermobility, smoking, chronic coughing, straining when having a bowel movement, or excessive weight gain.

Urge Incontinence

UI is getting a strong urge to pee but not being able to get to a toilet in time. Along with the factors that lead to SUI, UI could also be caused by neurological conditions, issues with the prostate or a urinary tract infection, so it is important to have a medical examination if you experience UI.

Photo courtesy of Northwestern Medicine

Symptoms of Both

You may have both symptoms of UI and SUI which is termed mixed incontinence. Overactive bladder is another description of incontinence which includes urinary frequency (going more than once every 2 hours), urinary urgency, and nocturia (getting up to pee in the night more than once). No matter what type of incontinence you have it effects your life in more than just a physical way; it can hurt your confidence, affect your social life and your intimate life. The good news is you do not have to just live with it, there are effective treatments outside of surgery.

Treatments to Urinary Incontinence

Once medical reasons are ruled out, the first line of treatment is conservative management, which includes lifestyle changes, pelvic floor physical therapy and/or pessaries. In pelvic floor physical therapy, treatment may include pelvic floor muscle strengthening, relaxation, coordination training, optimizing your body's ability to manage pressure, and strengthening surrounding musculature. Lifestyle changes may include altering your fluid intake (reducing fluid is usually NOT the answer), limit bladder irritants, bladder retraining, weight loss, manage constipation, or ceasing smoking, among others.

KWELL EM1 (Electrical Muscle Stimulator)

If your incontinence is due to a weak pelvic floor and you are unable to contract your pelvic floor muscles on your own, or have a hard time staying consistent with your pelvic floor exercises. electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to the pelvic floor muscles may be a helpful tool for you.

The KWELL EM1 electrical muscle stimulator is a pain free way to assist in the treatment of incontinence. EMS applied to the pelvic floor muscles aims to elicit a contraction and improve pelvic floor muscle function so that the pelvic floor muscles can be used when needed to close off the urethra and reduce leaking.

The EM1 has an easy to insert probe with preset programs to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. It doesn't hurt and it can be done while you do other things because we all know life can get busy. Take back your control of your bladder and live a happier leak free life!

Written by Dr. Magdalen Link PT (Instagram l TikTok)


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