Urinary incontinence, or the involuntary loss of urine, is an extremely common condition affecting nearly 1/3 of all women of childbearing age and nearly 1/2 of all women beyond the age of menopause. In fact more sanitary pads are used for urinary incontinence than for menstrual bleeding! Not only does this create embarrassing and problematic situations for those affected, but can lead to depression and social isolation.
The Anatomy Behind Incontinence
Incontinence is more than twice as likely to occur in women than men, in large measure due to child-bearing and due to the female urinary anatomy. The female urethra is only about 4 to 5 cm in length and it is frequently “abused” with the long rigors of lengthy and prolonged labor. Besides pregnancy, the other main etiology for incontinence is obesity, with the heavier a women is, the more likely she is to have problems controlling her bladder. As the muscles that control the bladder neck are damaged with delivery and with the excess stress of weight, the short muscles surrounding the short female urethra simply cannot stop the pressure placed upon it and leakage occurs.
2 Foundations For Incontinence
There are two main types of incontinence. By far the most common is called “stress incontinence.” This occurs with excess pressure such as with coughing, sneezing, running, and lifting. Stress incontinence is very amenable to treatment with surgical and more recently, with non-surgical therapy. The other most common type is called “urge incontinence” – when a woman gets the desire to need to urinate and then cannot stop the flow or control the loss of urine by simply feeling the need to go. Urge incontinence is not amenable to surgery, but can be helped with medication.
Out With The Old Methods And The Lawsuits!
In the past, the only solution for stress incontinence was invasive surgery. Unfortunately, the most effective and widely used method has been the use of a mid-urethral sling using “mesh.” In the past few years there have now been multiple studies citing multiple complications from the ” mesh ” material used for these procedures. Although highly effective, these so called “Tension Free Vaginal Tape ” procedures with mesh have met with many lawsuits over these potential complications.
Modern Medicine Combined With Exercise
I have been excited to learn of a new devise from InControl Medical that offers significant improvement or even complete cure for both stress and urge incontinence. The devise helps teach a woman how to do “Kegel” exercises in the privacy of her own home. It is inserted into the vagina and causes electrical impulses to strengthen the urethral muscles that help control the flow of urine. The devise has been nearly 100% effective in over 10,000 women that have used it thus far.
In summary, the 2 most common types of incontinence are treatable with either surgery, which although effective, can have complications, medication with certain side effects, or now with a home devise that can be used for both stress and urge incontinence and is highly effective. For more information on any of the potential treatments, or for consultation, contact Dr. Mark T. Saunders OB/GYN at drsaundersobgyn.com or call 801-822-2436.