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When Would Incontinence Surgery be Recommended?
A gynecologist may suggest incontinence surgery when a patient's loss of bladder control is interfering with daily life. Urinary incontinence is relatively common in older adults, according to the Mayo Clinic, and it can be a normal symptom of aging. It is important to speak to a qualified gynecologist if the symptoms are becoming too frequent or stressful.
What is incontinence?
Incontinence is a term used to describe when a person cannot hold successfully urine in the bladder. In a healthy bladder, the muscles contract and allow the person to hold the urine until a bathroom visit. In an incontinent bladder, the muscles may spasm due to weakness or a medical condition, which allows urine to leak out. There are several symptoms that may indicate incontinence and several reasons why a person may be incontinent.
Symptoms of incontinence
Patients who are interested in incontinence surgery may review symptoms with a gynecologist. The doctor will ask patients how frequently the symptoms interfere with daily life as well as their severity. Symptoms may include urine leaking when laughing or sneezing, trouble holding urine in an already full bladder, or constant leaking of urine throughout the day.
Types of incontinence
Before recommending incontinence surgery, a gynecologist will classify the type of incontinence to develop a treatment plan. Types of incontinence may include the following:
- Stress incontinence: The bladder leaks when the patient sneezes, laughs, or lifts a heavy object.
- Urge incontinence: The patient has a strong urge to urinate and a small, involuntary loss of urine before he or she is able to make it to the bathroom. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection may resemble, or even contribute to, this type of incontinence.
- Mixed incontinence: The bladder leaks due to a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
- Functional incontinence: The patient has a condition or disability that affects the ability to walk to the toilet, unbutton pants, or sit down on the toilet before the urine comes out.
- Overflow incontinence: The patient is unable to completely empty the bladder, which results in the constant leaking of urine.
When is incontinence surgery recommended?
Incontinence surgery is not usually considered for mild cases of incontinence. In these cases, a gynecologist may recommend first trying dietary approaches to treating the problem. Patients may be advised to avoid alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods, and other items that irritate the bladder. Patients will also be checked for UTIs as well as constipation, which can contribute to urinary problems.
If these measures fail to control the problem, incontinence surgery is often recommended. Female patients are advised to finish having children before the surgery. The surgery can help in strengthening the bladder muscles and urethra. The doctor may recommend adding tissue around the urethra to help it form a stronger seal or placing a sling around the urethra that aids in holding in urine.
Though incontinence can lead to embarrassment, it is important to remember that most people have leaks of urine from time to time. Speak to a gynecologist about incontinence surgery to take control of your daily life and return to activities you enjoy.
Patients whose incontinence symptoms do not respond to traditional treatment may need surgery to correct the problem. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.
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