Urinary incontinence in women is more than just a medical problem. Any women suffering from urinary incontinence also knows that this disease effects them emotionally, psychologically, and puts restraints and limits on their lives. Many women with urinary incontinence are afraid to participate in activities that would take them too far away from a bathroom, for fear of the dreaded “accident.” But just as there are numerous causes of urinary incontinence, there are also many treatment options available.
Here are some of the main treatments for urinary incontinence in women:
Behavior Modification for Mild to Moderate Urinary Incontinence
Depending on the severity level of a women’s urinary incontinence, it can often be treated with behavior modification techniques. These include decreasing the amount of fluid intake, and eliminating bladder irritants such as caffeine. Scheduling trips to the bathroom can also be helpful to prevent leaking and eliminate accidents.
Pelvic Muscle Training aka Kegel Exercises
There are pelvic exercises, known as Kegel exercises that a women can do to strengthen her pelvic and sphincter muscles. These exercises involve learning to isolate these muscles and contract them repeatedly several times a day. Some women find it helpful to receive biofeedback, electrical stimulation of the pelvic muscles, or weighted cones in order to learn how to isolate these muscles and perform the exercises correctly.
This treatment can be used to treat both men and women suffering from urinary incontinence. With periurethral injections, a bulking agent is injected in order to assist in closing of the urethral mucosa. These injections are performed under local anesthesia with use of a cystoscope and a small needle. This surgical option is minimally invasive, and can be performed several times. However, the cure rate with this treatment is only 10 to 30 percent.
Sub Urethral Sling
The most common surgical treatment for stress urinary incontinence is the sub urethral sling procedure. This treatment, often called TVT or TOT, involves creating a sling, or support under the urethra to improve urethral closure. This sling can be created using donated tissue from a cadaver, autologous tissue from your own body, or a synthetic material. This operation is minimally invasive, and patients typically recuperate quickly.
With this surgical treatment the vaginal or periurethral tissues are affixed to the pubic bone. Though the long term results of this surgery are positive, it is more invasive than the sub urethral sling surgery, and there is usually a longer recuperation time. For these reasons retropubic colposuspension is usually performed when there are other abdominal surgeries required. This procedure can also be performed laparoscopically which is less invasive than an open surgery, but the long term results are typically not as good as with the open surgery.
Bladder Neck Needle Suspension
During this surgical treatment a long needle is used to thread sutures from the vagina to the abdominal wall. The suture incorporates paraurethral tissue at the bladder neck. This procedure is less effective than retropubic colposuspensions and sling procedures, so it is rarely the procedure of choice today.
Anterior Vaginal Repair
This treatment requires suturing the periurethral tissue and fascia in order to elevate and support the bladder neck. As with the bladder neck needle suspension, this procedure is rarely used as it also has less favorable results than retrobubic colposuspensions and sling procedures.
With the treatment options available for today, there is no reason for women with urinary incontinence to suffer in silence with this disease. Which is the best treatment for your urinary incontinence? A discussion with your urologist involving a detailed history and medical exam, in addition to other possible diagnostic techniques will help you to determine the best course of treatment for your urinary incontinence, so that you can lead a full, accident-free life.