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Understanding the secret that 1 out of every 3 women share

Urinary incontinence is simply the loss of bladder control and it's a far more common condition than you may realize. In fact, it's very likely that you or someone you know-your mother, sister, or best friend is quietly coping with this potentially embarrassing problem. Unfortunately, many don't realize that effective treatment options are helping women regain their comfort and confidence.


Did you know there are different types of female urinary incontinence?

  • Stress Urinary Incontinence - Is caused by weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles. If you experience unexpected accidents or loss of bladder control when you put stress on your bladder, especially when coughing, sneezing, lifting something heavy, or laughing at a joke-you may suffer from this condition.
  • Urge Incontinence (overactive bladder) - Is the result of overactive muscles that contract frequently around the bladder. If you feel a sudden, overwhelming urge to use the restroom, even if you just went, and are unable to hold it long enough to get there, urge incontinence may be the reason.
  • Mixed Incontinence - If both of these situations are familiar to you, you may have mixed incontinence, a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

A life interrupted: urinary incontinence and quality of life

In a quality of life study, more than 40% of women shared that incontinence interfered with their work and daily activities. Like many other women, what they may not realize is that they don't have to manage their condition with frequent visits to the restroom and uncomfortable pads and liners. Medical advances are giving many women a new lease on life.

Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatment methods

Women who are just beginning to experience symptoms of urinary incontinence may opt for non-surgical methods as their first step. For women dealing with mild symptoms, these simple changes may be effective.

  • Behavior therapies - By introducing simple lifestyle changes-like making frequent visits to the restroom, drinking fewer liquids at night, and limiting coffee and alcohol-some women are able to minimize the frequency and severity of their urinary incontinence symptoms. Evidence also suggests that postural changes (i.e. not crossing legs) may help minimize stress urinary incontinence symptoms, while weight loss can reduce symptoms of stress, urge, and mixed incontinence.

  • Pads, liners, and absorbent products - Absorbent products like Poise® and Depend® trap leaks away from the body and clothing, while also neutralizing odors. However, these products only help manage symptoms, they do not minimize or eliminate them.

  • Pelvic floor exercises - Known to many women as Kegels, they help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles for improved bladder control in women who suffer from stress urinary incontinence. They are easy to learn and perform, simply relax and contract the muscles you would use to halt your flow of urine midstream. However, in order for Kegel exercises to make an impact, they must be done correctly, regularly, and for an adequate duration.

  • Vaginal pessary - Similar to the outer ring of a diaphragm, when placed into the vagina, a pessary can provide support to the pelvic floor and help relieve stress urinary incontinence symptoms. Pessaries and other urethral inserts must be fitted by your doctor to ensure optimal results. While these devices are an acceptable treatment for some women, others prefer a treatment option that doesn't require daily intervention.

  • Medications - For women who suffer from urge incontinence, daily prescriptions like DetrolLA® may restore bladder control. However, there are no medications currently available to treat stress urinary incontinence.

  • Bulking injections - Not unlike injecting collagen for fuller lips, this procedure involves thickening the urethral lining, which helps the urethra close more tightly. Although bulking agents reduce leakage in women who suffer from stress urinary incontinence, the effectiveness of the injection does decrease over time. After 1-2 years, the procedure will likely need to be repeated. The most common complications are pain during the injection, as well as a potential for transient urinary retention and voiding dysfunction after the procedure.

New minimally invasive procedures

For women who've decided to seek treatment for stress urinary incontinence, they'll be glad to know that the options have changed dramatically since the days of their mothers and grandmothers. Now, more and more women are turning to minimally invasive treatment options. These new procedures are effective and often involve less pain and a shorter recovery time.

  • Urinary incontinence slings - Known as urethral support slings by specialists, these soft and flexible surgical mesh systems cradle the urethra like a hammock, providing additional support and helping to restore it to its normal anatomical position.

    Urethral support slings are proving to be an effective surgical procedure for stress urinary incontinence. In fact, clinical research shows that slings are up to 90% effective*.

    *This number may vary, depending on the type of procedure performed and products used, so be sure to ask your doctor for more information.

    Benefits of slings
    If you're considering a urethral support sling to treat stress urinary incontinence, consider these important benefits shared by women and their doctors:

      • They're effective for most women
      • Many women regain complete bladder control within hours of their procedure
      • In most cases, women can return to normal, non-strenuous activities shortly after the procedure
      • Depending on the specific type of procedure, they may be performed under local, regional, or general anesthesia on an out-patient basis
      • Incisions are small, reducing pain and recovery time
      • The procedures can be performed in women who have scarring from previous pelvic surgeries

    About the procedure
    While each sling procedure varies slightly, placing the mesh generally involves these steps: *

      • A small incision or incisions will be made in the vagina, the abdomen, or where the top of your thigh meets your pelvic area
      • The mesh is threaded through the incision and positioned under the urethra to form a cradle of support
      • The mesh allows your body tissues to grow into it, providing support to your urethra and securing the mesh in place.

    *Procedure may vary by product.

    Urinary Incontinence Quiz

    Could you be suffering from urinary incontinence? Answer these simple questions to find out.

    Question 1:
    Do you ever experience accidental and unexpected leaks during the day or while you're sleeping?



    Question 2:
    Do you experience loss of bladder control while laughing, sneezing, jumping, or performing other movements that put pressure on the bladder?



    Question 3:
    Do you experience leakage or trouble holding your bladder when you rush to the restroom?



    Question 4:
    Do you frequently experience a sudden and immediate urge to use the restroom, but are unable to get there in time?



    Question 5:
    Have you noticed a change in how frequently you use the restroom?



    Question 6:
    Do you use the restroom more than 8 times per day?



    Question 7:
    Do you currently wear pads or liners to protect against accidental leaks?



    Question 8:
    When planning a trip, outing, or event, does the availability or location of restroom facilities affect your decision?



    Could I have urinary incontinence?

    If you answered "Yes" to two or more questions, you may be suffering from a type of urinary incontinence-but only a specialist can tell for sure

    Print out this quiz and share the results with Dr. Debrakeleer. Your answers will help him gain a greater understanding of your condition, helping him recommend the treatment that's best for you.