January 27th, 2003
Why suffer in silence? Help for urinary incontinence just a phone call away
After the birth of her third child, Jane* thought her frequent trips to bathroom – caused from the pressure of the baby resting on her bladder -- would stop.
Instead, the opposite happened.
In the weeks following childbirth, 33-year-old Jane noticed she wasn’t able to contain her urine when coughing, sneezing or even laughing hard. And once a leak started, she couldn’t stop it – often leading to humiliating wetting accidents in front of her family and friends.
But like many of the 15-million Americans dealing with urinary incontinence, Jane kept her problem to herself and suffered silently for fear of exposing her condition.
“I’d heard about older women experiencing problems with their bladders, but I never thought this would happen to me at my age,” she said. “I was so ashamed I couldn’t control the situation that it took me about two years until I finally mentioned it to my gynecologist.”
According to Patrick Bruno, MD, Board Certified Gynecologist for Community Health Network, Jane’s circumstances are not unique.
About 85% of Americans diagnosed with urinary incontinence are women – making gender a primary factor.
For women, risk factors for developing the condition include pregnancy, childbirth or hormonal changes that occur with the onset of menopause, as well as the anatomical structure of the urethra, Dr. Bruno said.
“People of all ages and races have problems controlling their bladders,” he said. “Unfortunately, the vast majority keep their condition to themselves for fear of exposing it to those around them. They stock up on feminine hygiene products and even restrict their lifestyles to ensure a bathroom is always nearby.”
Signs of Bladder Trouble
While Kegel exercises, long-advocated for women to practice during their childbearing years, help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, they aren’t a surefire guarantee for preventing urinary incontinence, Dr. Bruno said.
If a woman sees any of the following signs, she may have urinary incontinence:
· A sudden, strong urge to urinate
· Not making it to the bathroom in time
· Having a wetting accident from not going to the bathroom ‘on time’
· Going to the bathroom more than eight times a day
· Getting up two or more times in the night to go to the bathroom
· Access to a bathroom dictates travel and event plans Bottom of Form
A patient may experience only those signs indicative of her particular type – either “stress” or “urge”—incontinence, Dr. Bruno said.
This involves the sudden loss of urine at the wrong time and place, or feeling the sudden need or “urge” to urinate. The most common cause of urge incontinence is a spasm or contraction of the bladder muscle, which squeezes earlier than it normally would and causes leaks – often leading to loss of urine before reaching a toilet.
Stress incontinence is marked by involuntary urine leakage while lifting, coughing, sneezing, or running. It is most common among women who have given birth to multiple babies or who are obese.
The first step in getting help for urinary incontinence is to see a qualified medical professional.
“When I finally approached the subject with my doctor, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest,” Jane said. “I was pleasantly surprised that I simply needed to take medication once a day, which alleviated my symptoms almost immediately.”
In this region, help for urinary incontinence is nearby at Dr. Bruno’s CHN Women’s Medical Services practice, which has office locations at Berlin Memorial Hospital, Family Healthcare in Ripon and Wild Rose Community Memorial Hospital.
Specializing in urogynecology, the field of medicine focused on the bladder and pelvic problems, Dr. Bruno determines the best course of treatment for urinary incontinence, including medication, biofeedback, bladder retraining and/or surgical procedures.
In addition to urogynecology, CHN Women's Medical Services provides an array of specialized female health services, including routine examinations, reproductive health, gynecological surgeries including laparascopic/endoscopic procedures; hormone replacement therapy; and bone densitometry scanning for osteoporosis.
Appointments with Dr. Patrick Bruno, CHN Women’s Medical Services, can be scheduled by calling the Berlin office at (920)361-5737 or 1-800-236-1283 ext. 5737.
* Patient’s name has been changed to protect her privacy