Female Incontinence & Pelvic Organ Prolapse… You Are Not Alone
Seemingly on a weekly basis, I meet another female patient in my office who reports that plyometrics, the “dreaded double under” or another high intensity workout has gotten the best of her. It is also widely reported that the line to the ladies’ room at some gyms gets much longer immediately before certain workouts in order to prevent the inevitable puddle on the floor. Trust me. If this describes your workout experience, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Stress incontinence or “leakage” is becoming more common in younger women as our society moves toward a fitter lifestyle. Stress incontinence during exercise happens, but women often do not discuss it with their friends or their doctors. Many women simply accept this as a consequence of childbirth, or mistakenly assume that this is something they must live with as they advance in age. Fortunately, there are many options for treating incontinence and the success rate for those who choose treatment is very high.
Women with stress incontinence often describe leakage with coughing, sneezing, exercising, lifting children or heavy objects, and even laughing. In my opinion, stress incontinence is the easiest type of incontinence to cure with up to a 90-95% cure rate. Stress incontinence is generally treated in my practice with a minimally invasive OUTPATIENT procedure that takes about 10 minutes. You will have no visible skin incisions, and will typically be ready to go home about an hour after the procedure. If successful, you will most likely be dry by that evening.
A second common type of urinary leakage in women is urge incontinence. This presents with frequency, waking up several times at night to go, or urgently seeking a restroom on a regular basis. This can be caused by an “overactive bladder,” a condition where your bladder seems to have a mind of its own, regardless of where you happen to be or what you are doing. Treatment for this typically is medication based and would be tailored to your particular situation.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is very common in women as well. When the muscles and ligaments supporting a woman's pelvic organs weaken (especially after pregnancy, hysterectomy, etc), the pelvic organs can slip out of place (prolapse). Common symptoms include feeling pressure from pelvic organs pressing against the vaginal wall. This is often made worse with prolonged or vigorous physical activity, and can worsen over time. Women often blame themselves for having too many children or even exercising too much. This is usually not true, and there are treatments available, often including use of the state of the art da Vinci robotic technology and other options.
At The Jackson Clinic Department of Urology, our incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse evaluation is relatively easy. On the initial visit to our office, your individual history and symptoms are discussed. Any non-urologic causes of these issues are ruled out, and we will commonly screen for urinary tract infection or blood in the urine. In order to discern between urge and stress incontinence, we will discuss various tests that may be recommended. This entire workup can be done in the office with minimal discomfort. Nearly all health insurance providers cover the evaluation and treatment options that we offer.
Stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse likely do not have to be a reality for you (even during strenuous gym workouts)! Evaluation of this is easy and safe. If we can help you, your friends, or loved ones in the treatment of urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, or any other urologic issue, please contact us at The Jackson Clinic Department of Urology at 731-422-0330.