Urinary incontinence, or accidental leaking of urine, affects many people, but is often a topic that people don’t want to discuss publicly because they’re embarrassed about it. When a patient does speak with their physician about it, there are several proven ways to provide relief.
I always stress this is a medical condition and there is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed by it. There are several different reasons why these issues may arise in some people…
- Weakened pelvic floor muscles
- Structural issues
- Neurological issues
Two common types of incontinence…
- Stress incontinence is involuntarily losing urine, or in other words wetting your pants. This can happen when you laugh, cough, sneeze or even jump on a trampoline.
- Urge incontinence is when you get this pressing sensation to go to the bathroom and you feel like you are unable to hold it, for no apparent reason.
It’s important to note that these types of conditions can affect women of any age and that females are twice as more likely to experience urinary incontinence then men.
There are different treatments for each type of incontinence:
- Physical therapy to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. (stress & urge incontinence)
- Prescription medication (stress & urge incontinence)
- Outpatient surgery (stress incontinence)
In the case where a patient is a candidate for surgery, it’s a same-day, minimally invasive outpatient surgery with very little downtime. It’s nice for working women who can very quickly return to work or other activities. Prior to this, there was a considerable incision in the abdomen, followed by three days in the hospital.
Today, we have a treatment known as “the sling procedure”. When a patient shows classic symptoms of urinary incontinence and we know that physical therapy or medications have proven unsuccessful, this procedure is a great option and is covered by health insurance.
In my years as a surgeon, I rarely hear women bring up the issue of incontinence in their appointments unless I directly ask them about it. Either they will tell me they were told that “it’s normal to occasionally wet yourself”, or that they’ve been told it’s normal after giving birth.
Mandy Pfeiffer, of Brainerd, came in to see me at my outpatient clinic in Baxter and explained her incontinence struggles. She was an excellent candidate for the outpatient surgery and so she came to Wadena to have it done. When I asked Mandy about her experience, here is what she told me:
“I so appreciated that you took the time to answer my husband’s questions. He had more questions then I did! I thought it was really important that he and I both felt comfortable with the procedure. After explaining the procedure to both of us, we made the decision to move forward with the surgery. I never knew how bad my quality of life was until after the surgery. In the past, I would sneeze or jump and pee accidently. Some woman shy away from surgery because they think it will be scary. Trust me…this was quick and easy and I would do it again in a heartbeat knowing what I know now! My quality of life increased tremendously and that made everything worth it. I couldn’t imagine how good life could be…and this surgery made the difference for me.”
The good news is that with modern medicine this is a minimally invasive surgery that will get you back to life quickly while also increasing your quality of life. The issue of incontinence no longer needs to prevent you from doing anything. This is not something you need to live with. You also don’t have to wait until you get to a certain age to find relief from it. There is relief now!
About the Author:
Jennifer Arnhold, MD, lives with her husband, three-year old son and poodle in the Brainerd Lakes Area. She graduated from medical school in 2000 and performs gynecology and gynecological surgery at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena, MN. You can also see her for outpatient appointments at Embrace Women’s Health Clinic in Baxter.
The information and opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and are not designed to constitute advice or recommendations as to any disease, ailment or physical condition. You should not act or rely solely upon any information contained in this article without seeking the advice of your personal physician.