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Incontinence - Treatment

Overview | Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment | FAQ

The most common type of incontinence, stress incontinence, is caused by weakened pelvic muscles. Pelvic muscles are not exercised regularly, which causes them to be naturally weak. Also, pelvic muscles can be weakened even more in the process of childbearing. During a vaginal childbirth, the child passes underneath the pelvic floor muscle. This weakens the pelvic muscle and can lead to incontinence.


There are many treatments available for incontinence. One easy way to improve your continence is by doing pelvic floor muscle exercises. Your pelvic muscle stretches from your front pubic bone to your tailbone in the back. This muscle supports the bladder, large intestine and the uterus.

Performing this exercise regularly helps strengthen the pelvic muscle and the urethra, the tube from which the urine flows, and can lead to decreased incontinence. Strengthening the urethra enables it to stay closed during stressful activities like aerobics or a tennis match.

Follow these simple instructions:

  • Pretend you are trying to stop the flow of urine you are voiding.

  • To practice, you can actually stop your urine stream while you are urinating. Do not do this often as it may cause harm.


Bladder Neck Bulking Agents

Bulking agent injections can also help your incontinence. Bulking agents include Coaptite, Macroplastique, or Durasphere. When the agent is injected into the tissues around the urethra, it adds mass to the tissue to help the urethra close tightly and prevent urine leakage.

The injection is typically an outpatient procedure. The doctor will insert a cystoscope, like a telescope into your urethra to locate the areas where the agent should be injected. A needle then comes out of the cystoscope and injects the bulking agent into these areas.

After the injection, most patients do not have any incontinence, and others will have a significant reduction in urine leakage. You may have to have more injections after a few years.


Transvaginal Sling

When a more permanent method of incontinence relief is needed, a transvaginal sling is created to support the bladder neck, urethra and sphincter to provide aid in urine leakage. The doctor takes a tool and inserts it into the vagina. Two anchors will be placed into the pubic bone with this tool. Then, the doctor makes a "sling" out of a biocompatible synthetic material like gortex or he may use some of your own tissue. The sling is secured by the anchors, and it supports the bladder, bladder neck, urethra and sphincter.

The sling procedure is a more permanent way to "cure" female incontinence. Recovery for this procedure is a little more complex than the bulking agent injection. The transvaginal sling procedure usually requires the insertion of a catherter for a limited amount of time, usually 24 hours, and you must refrain from lifting objects heavier than 10 pounds for a month. However, the long-term gain from the surgery is worth it.


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