WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Stress urinary incontinence is the fancy medical term for it.
“If you’ve seen the bumper sticker that says I laughed so hard that tears ran down my leg, that’s stress incontinence,” URPG Urologist Dr. Paul Morison said.
It’s that unwanted, embarrassing leakage.
But the thing is, Morrison says at least half, if not three-fourths of women, 60 and older will experience some type of incontinence.
“It’s just a physical problem of not being able to hold the urine in tight enough and so anything that results in pressure or fullness on the bladder itself then just kind of squeezes the urine out and just not strong enough to hold that back in,” Morrison said.
It’s partly related to age and weakness of the pelvic floor, maybe because of a hysterectomy, and for sure childbirth.
Because it’s a physical problem, it can’t be solved with medication. But don’t worry, there’s another way.
“It’s primarily a surgical procedure to help with stress incontinence. There’s a few non-surgical options. One example is pelvic floor physical therapy, many women are familiar with kegel exercises that can help with this condition,” Morrison said.
If you go the surgery route, that involves a sling either made from mesh or your own tissue called a fascial sling.
“It can’t erode, it can’t destroy the urinary system, it can’t cause vaginal spotting or anything, it can’t cause all those complications that you may have seen advertised or listed on TV but still, deliver a great result,” Morrison said. “There’s an incision that is made in the outside of the leg and so then I take a small strip of fascia, that I build into that hammock that gets placed underneath the urethra in the front vaginal wall.”
Although it’s a quality of life issue it can cause things like itching and yeast infections.
“There is good evidence as well that incontinence is leading to falls in the elderly and so a people age, incontinence leads them to get out of the bed in the middle of the night in inopportune settings or try to make it to the bathroom urgently, before leaking,” Morrison said.
So the next time you laugh, cough, sneeze, or jump rope, maybe you won’t have to rush to the bathroom.
Incontinence is diagnosed in a clinical or office setting, but there is some physical exam processes that take place, like a pelvic and urethral examination.
Your primary care physician or ob-gyn will refer you to a urologist for further examination.