Urinary incontinence has been described as a “hidden shame” that women endure, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many solutions—some very simple—to help women gain control and live worry-free lives. Now that Prowers Medical Center has a full-time gynecologist on staff, women in the community are able to receive all types of treatments for urinary incontinence and other gynecological conditions including pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
Urinary incontinence is common among women in their later years. As women age, their bladder and pelvic muscles weaken, especially after menopause. According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), 13 million Americans are incontinent and 85% are women. Also, 50% of women will experience some degree of pelvic organ prolapse.
There are different types of urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control. Urinary incontinence can be mild—as in a few, infrequent dribbles when you cough or sneeze—to more severe—where you feel a sudden urge and can’t stop urine from escaping before you reach the bathroom. Stress incontinence (brought on by a cough, sneeze, orgasm or heavy lifting) is common, and is caused by a weakness in the neck of the bladder. Urge incontinence makes it hard to make it to the bathroom in time. Another type of incontinence is overflow, where you can’t fully empty your bladder and only have a weak stream when you go.
Women can assume that urinary incontinence is simply a price they pay for having had kids and something they simply have to live with. That’s not true. Dr. Steven Foley, OBGYN at Prowers Medical Center, helps women overcome urinary incontinence issues that can feel embarrassing and cause them to not want to leave the house or require the use of adult diapers.
“Women don’t like to talk about it but there is no need to be embarrassed. One woman I treated in the past didn’t attend her mother’s funeral because she was afraid she’d lose control over her bladder. When it interferes with your life, it’s time to act,” he said.
Women who have experienced childbirth, had a hysterectomy, have a neurological disorder such as MS or Parkinson’s, take heart or high blood pressure medicines, or have a urinary tract infection are at a higher risk for incontinence, according to the Mayo Clinic. Smoking, alcohol and caffeine agitate incontinence. The good news is that most cases of incontinence can be cured or improved.
“With stress incontinence, we can place a sling to support the bladder so it will not leak when women cough, sneeze or laugh. When done by an experienced doctor, the risks with slings are very low. It’s a simple procedure where women are back to their normal lives in a few days and it works well for years,” Foley says.
For advanced urge incontinence, Dr. Foley places an InterStim™ neurostimulator device similar to a small pacemaker near the sacral nerve that stimulates the nerve with mild electrical pulses, improving continence. He has been performing these two surgeries for over 20 years.
“They are effective, safe procedures that really help women,” he says.
There are several diagnostic tests doctors can perform to determine the best treatment, and there are many ways to treat incontinence besides surgery. If you are struggling with incontinence or prolapse, see your doctor or visit with Dr. Foley. You can get back to an active life.
“Urinary incontinence is very treatable with several options to choose from including medication, pelvic floor physical therapy or minimally invasive surgery. I encourage women to talk with me about it, as I am typically able to really help,” he said.
Dr. Foley is seeing patients at Prowers Medical Center Clinic. Call (719) 336-6767 for an appointment.