Urinary tract and kidney problems are common in women in part because the urinary tract is much closer to their genital area than in men. As such, pregnancy, childbirth and sexual intercourse can also play a part in urologic conditions affecting women.
General urinary conditions & treatments in women
The most common issues women experience that is related to the general urinary tract are infections, incontinence, and fistulas.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
UTIs are caused by bacterial infections in the urinary tract causing painful or frequent urination, blood in the urine, cramps or nausea. One woman in five develops a UTI during her lifetime and women are 10 times more likely to have a UTI than men.
Women experience urinary incontinence (UI), the involuntary loss of bladder control, about twice as often as men. This is due to the structure of the female urinary tract and because women experience childbirth and menopause.
A fistula is an uncommon connection among any organ or intestine and can occur anywhere in the body. Urinary fistulas include any abnormal connection between the kidney, bladder, urethra, the colon and the vagina. The result can be feces and urine leaking from the vagina due to that abnormal connection.
Pelvic organ prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a woman’s muscles, skin, ligaments and other support structures surrounding the vagina weaken, causing pelvic organs such as the bladder to fall out of their normal position. There are different types of prolapse, named after the organs that are shifting within a women’s pelvic area. Types of prolapse include vaginal prolapse or bladder prolapse.
Typically, pelvic organ prolapses affect older women who have had children.
The lower urinary tract, which includes the bladder and urethra, allows for storage and discharge of urine. Voiding dysfunction is a general term describing poor coordination between the bladder muscle and the urethra, in which the bladder does not empty properly. Symptoms typically include a strong urge to urinate, frequent urination and the inability
Bladder conditions & treatments in women
The bladder is a balloon-shaped organ that stores urine. Numerous health conditions can affect the bladder. And the bladder may be involved in several urinary tract conditions, such as urinary incontinence.
The following are some of the bladder-specific issues women may experience.
An overactive bladder often causes frequent urges to urinate, inability to hold urine and incomplete bladder emptying. This is a common condition seen in women when the pelvic floor muscles weaken, which often occurs with age. The front wall of the vagina, which supports the bladder, can also weaken with age or after dramatic events such as childbirth.
Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis)
This is a condition in which the walls of the bladder become inflamed and may cause frequent or painful urination, bladder pressure, pain in the bladder area and sometimes pelvic pain. Both men and women can get painful bladder syndrome, although women are twice as likely as men. It can occur at any age, but it is most common in middle age.
Bladder prolapse is a form of pelvic floor prolapse, which occurs when a woman’s muscles, ligaments and skin surrounding the vagina weaken, causing pelvic organs such as the bladder to fall out of their normal position. Typically, this condition affects older women.