Do you leak when you sneeze? At least half your friends do!
If you’re in your 40’s it’s safe to assume that 2 out of 3 of your friends worry about leaking when they workout, jump on a trampoline or laugh at a good joke. Urinary leakage is so common that it’s tempting to call it “normal” and believe it is something you need to live with. What many don’t realize is how easily it can be improved or even cured with modern non-invasive techniques.
Why do women leak?
Most women leak because of a decrease in the strength of the tissue under their urethra (between the bladder and the opening where you pee). This is mostly genetic but we all know that having kids doesn’t help! There are a few other causes that may be contributing to the leakage, including weakening of the ring of sphincter muscles around your urethral opening. There are some other subtle things that could be going on, including spasm of your bladder muscle, decrease in elasticity of your bladder or incomplete emptying of your bladder due to dropping or prolapse of vaginal / bladder tissue. It is important to have an experienced physician perform a detailed examination so that you know the exact cause of your leakage.
Modern Non-invasive solutions for incontinence:
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to incontinence. The correct solution for you depends on the cause and severity of your incontinence, whether or not you’re planning on becoming pregnant sometime soon, and your personal preference / philosophy.
Kegel Exercises / Biofeedback:
Are you secretly squeezing your pelvic muscles / doing Kegels when you’re stopped at a red light with the kids in the back seat? Well, I have bad news. 80% of women doing Kegel exercises are squeezing the wrong muscles which can actually worsen your problem. It’s hard to squeeze the correct muscles without some form of feedback to show you that you are, in fact, squeezing the correct muscles. That feedback can come in the form of some really cool high-tech gadgets like the Kgoal device (minnalife.com) which synchs with your bluetooth device. It gives you instructions on how to do truly effective Kegel exercises, provides constant feedback on how effective you’re being and even gives you games to keep things interesting while strengthening your pelvis. If this just sounds too cumbersome (or the fear of your 8 year-old discovering your kegel app on your phone scares you off) then maybe a lower-tech pelvic workout is for you. For as little as $20 you can get a set of vaginal balls / vaginal weights. Imagine getting up in the morning and taking care of a few essentials like brushing your teeth. But while you’re doing that you have a weighted ball in your vagina. You are forced to squeeze the correct muscles to keep the ball inside. A few minutes of this will go a long way. When this light ball becomes fairly easy to keep inside then you can move on to a heavier / smaller ball so that you have to squeeze even harder. Oh, and there is one more big perk to doing your kegels… stronger pelvic muscles equals stronger / better orgasms too!
You can do Kegels all day long but still some women don’t see improvement in their symptoms. Either they aren’t doing it as often as they should, their problem is more severe and needs more intense correction or they are doing the exercises incorrectly. This incredible new tool will take things to a whole new level for you. Emsella is an office-based treatment that uses powerful magnets to help you strengthen your pelvic floor. During your 28-minute session on the Emsella chair, the magnets will perform 11,000 powerful Kegel exercises for you. It is completely non-invasive and you can sit on it fully clothed if you wear something thin & comfortable. Not only can I say that Emsella treatments don’t hurt, many patients find it pleasurable. My staff has nicknamed it “The O-Chair” due to the vibrations and their effect on the muscles it intends to strengthen. Emsella treatment typically consists of two sessions per week for three weeks but is tailored to each patient’s needs and schedule
The Femilift CO2 fractionated laser is a quick procedure with minimal discomfort that rejuvenates the vaginal epithelium. Femilift is most commonly used for women with vaginal dryness and discomfort with intercourse. It brings back healthy vaginal tissue and makes it thicker and more lubricated with healthier collagen. While Femilift is not specifically FDA-approved for treatment of incontinence, treatment can be focused on the mid-urethra to strengthen the tissue that helps keep you dry. Three treatments are recommended to be done one month apart. Go to FemiliftCT.com for more information.
While the Orgasm Shot was developed to improve orgasm quality and quantity, it can also help with bladder urgency and incontinence. The O-Shot procedure involves collecting your own blood which is spun in a special centrifuge to obtain platelet rich plasma (PRP). Once applied into the clitoris and vagina, PRP releases growth factors, stimulating regeneration of nerves and functional tissue. This regeneration of tissue near the bladder neck and mid-urethra is likely responsible for the improvement in bladder symptoms we see with the O-Shot.
While non-invasive techniques can help quite a bit, the gold standard of correcting urinary incontinence is the placement of a small mesh support under the urethra. These slings have come a long way. There are a number of types of slings, each with subtle pros and cons. Most patients qualify for the single-incision sling or “mini-sling.” This very small and soft mesh is inserted through one tiny vaginal incision in a 20-minute procedure. There is minimal discomfort and almost no down time after the surgery. You can have this procedure done on a Friday and be back to work Monday, fully continent! There are a lot of misconceptions about vaginal mesh and the risks involved. While all surgery has some risk and a detailed discussion of pros and cons with your surgeon is necessary, a sling placed properly for the right patient is incredibly safe and effective.
There are so many great treatments for urinary incontinence. Some take a bit of self-motivation (and time that you may be short on), but there’s really no reason to wear irritating liners every day or avoid jumping around with your kids or doing that workout you desire. Make sure to have a consultation with a physician who specializes in these treatments and has an array of offerings to help you come up with a plan to get you dry again.