Some women dread running – but not for the reason you might think. It’s one of the activities, including laughing, coughing and sneezing, that triggers a loss of bladder control. Also called stress incontinence, it’s an extremely common condition (1 in 3 women experience it) and caused by weak muscles that support the bladder.
A lot of women just live with it – thinking it’s just part of aging, especially after having children, or are embarrassed to talk about, or they simply don’t know what bladder treatments exist.
One treatment that is often talked about is a quick surgery – just 10 minutes – that has a high success rate called pubovaginal sling. Urologist Steven Bernstein, MD, from Fairview Center for Bladder Control, part of Fairview Women’s Specialty Care services in Burnsville, was the first in Minnesota to perform this latest-generation surgery. Below he explains what it is and why it works.
Describe the surgery.
Dr. Bernstein: Bladder sling surgery has been proven to help women with stress urinary incontinence for almost 100 years. Conceptually, it works by providing support to the bladder or, more specifically, to the urethra which is the tube to the outside world. The latest-generation of sling is performed in the operating room on a same-day basis. A small ½ inch incision is made in the vaginal area and a hammock of durable mesh is placed in the urethra to support it whenever pressure increases on the abdomen. By providing this support, most women can engage in active lifestyle activities without concern about urinary leakage.
How successful is it?
Dr. Bernstein: This treatment effectively treats stress incontinence in at least 90% of patients. Most patients experience a very prompt and extremely durable response.
What is the recovery like?
Dr. Bernstein: We perform surgery on a Monday; the patient takes it easy at home on Tuesday and is back to work full-time on Wednesday. Back to the gym in one week doing light-duty exercises and back to full action in one month.
Who should think about this treatment?
Dr. Bernstein: If you experience bladder control issues and it interferes with your daily activities, whether work, hobbies or social life, it’s time to talk to a doctor. One of the comments I hear from patients the most is that they wish they’d come in sooner.
Are there any treatment options for urinary incontinence that don’t involve surgery?
Dr. Bernstein: Absolutely. We’re one of the few full-service women’s bladder clinics with expertise in the full spectrum of diagnosis and treatment for urinary incontinence, including behavioral modification, physical therapy, use of advanced medications, Botox, Interstim and even injection therapy which can improve the seal of the bladder in with a five-minute office procedure.
To make an appointment call 952-460-4130, or visit us online.