Don’t Let Bladder Problems Limit Your Life

February 20, 2013

Ever heard someone say “I laughed so hard the tears ran down my legs”? Consider your 10 closest female friends. If they’re like most women in the U.S.:

  • One or two of them have an overactive bladder
  • Five of them have some degree of urinary incontinence

Didn’t know? It’s no wonder. Urological issues are difficult to discuss with your doctor, let alone your pals. But talking with your health care team is the first step in finding relief.

Overactive bladder occurs when the muscles that control your flow squeeze too often. This means you’re often struck with a sudden, overwhelming urge to go, even if your bladder’s not yet full.

Medications can help your muscles relax and provide relief. Your doctor may recommend behavioral therapies, such as timed urination or changing the amount of fluids you drink. Losing weight if you’re overweight and quitting smoking may also relieve symptoms. Patients also may benefit from electrical stimulation to the nerves leading to the bladder.

Urinary incontinence has become more common in recent years. And it’s not just a problem after menopause. Younger women often leak urine when they cough, laugh or exercise.

Kegel exercises are the simplest treatment. To do them, squeeze the muscles you’d use to stop the flow of urine. Hold for 10 counts. Relax for three counts. Do sets of 10, three times a day. After six to eight weeks, stronger pelvic muscles may help prevent urine leakage. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and not lifting heavy objects may also help. Surgery is an option in some cases.

Minimally invasive surgical options

A mid-urethra sling operation is a 15-minute, minimally invasive outpatient surgery for stress incontinence. Most patients do not need anything for pain. The success rate for curing the leakage is 80 to 90 percent.

Henry Ford Macomb Hospital leads the region in robotic surgery to give women relief from prolapsed, or fallen, pelvic organs. Prolapse happens when the support of the uterus and/or the vagina weakens, causing fallen organs into the vagina. It can occur in patients with or without a previous hysterectomy, says Henry Ford Macomb urogynecologist Andrew Agosta, MD.

The advantage of the minimally invasive, robotic procedure is better visualization and the additional precision the technology offers over traditional laparoscopic surgery, notes Dr. Agosta.

“We can approach more difficult cases using minimally invasive technology because the ‘wrists’ on the ends of the robotic arms offers us so much more dexterity. Laparoscopy is like working with chopsticks where the movements using robotic instruments are similar to the human hand.”

Dr. Agosta uses robotic technology to perform hysterectomies and prolapse surgeries. One procedure is called sacrocolpopexy. Using this technique, he makes three tiny incisions in the lower abdomen and in the belly button and is able to restore the shape and support of the vaginal canal.

“We have had fantastic success with this procedure,” Dr. Agosta adds. “Patients are back to normal activity within one to two weeks.”

Learn more

Pelvic floor disorders

If you are a women suffering from a pelvic floor disorder such as pelvic pain or incontinence, you may not be comfortable talking about it or seeking treatment. Meet one on one with a physical therapist to get answers to difficult questions and learn more about new minimally invasive treatment options. Appointments are required. Call (586) 285-3884.

March 12, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
March 14, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Henry Ford Macomb Health Center – Fraser