What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary stress incontinence (SI) is bladder leakage that happens when you cough, sneeze, laugh or lift heavy items. Urinary urge incontinence (UUI) or overactive bladder can be caused by damage to muscles or to the nervous system. It presents as sudden, uncontrollable urges to go to the bathroom. Mixed Urinary Incontinence (MUI) is a combination of both.
What are the symptoms of Stress Incontinence?
The main symptom is leakage when pressure is put on the bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy.
Who is affected by urinary incontinence?
According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, urinary incontinence affects up to 37% of Australian women. Unfortunately, up to 50% of them remain undiagnosed and do not seek help, even though it can affect their quality of life.
Urinary incontinence often affects women after childbirth or menopause. Pregnancy and childbirth stretch the vaginal and pelvic floor muscles, which can leave them more lax than before and less effective at controlling or supporting the bladder.
As we get older, our muscles lose some of their strength, including muscles that support the urethra and the bladder. Because of this, many women begin to experience incontinence as they reach menopause.
Are there treatments for incontinence?
The first line of treatment often involves Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. If exercises do not work, laser treatments, often branded as ThermiVa, MonaLisa Touch or IntimaLase, can be used to contract and strengthen the collagen fibres in the vaginal wall, which improves their strength, and thus their ability to support and control the bladder.
At Specialist Clinics of Australia our doctors have delivered over 300 laser treatments for urinary incontinence with an 88% success rate (as at August 2018).
There are also 2 types of surgical procedure for incontinence, TOT (trans-obturator tape) sling and TVT (tension free vaginal tape) sling, but surgery is often reserved for when less invasive treatments do not work.