Incontinence and Pelvic Surgery in Savannah

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Incontinence and pelvic surgery are important issues for many seniors.  Urinary Incontinence affects approximately one out of every four adult women in the United States, and is more prevalent than diabetes, hypertension, or depression. Although 80% of women with urinary incontinence can be cured or improved, only one out of twelve affected women seeks help.

What is Incontinence?
Typically, incontinence will fall into one of three types: stress, urge, or mixed, which is a combination of both stress and urge. Stress incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine which occurs during sudden increases of intra-abdominal pressure such as laughing, coughing, and sneezing. It is the most common type of urinary incontinence in women and may arise at any stage throughout a woman’s life. The mainstay of treatment is surgery, and over the last several years the development of the newer, minimally invasive “slings” has made correction of stress incontinence a reliably successful option.

Urge incontinence is the “gotta go, gotta go” leakage which occurs with a sudden uncontrollable urge to pass urine, and is usually attributable to an overactive bladder. Unlike women with stress incontinence whose urine loss can be anticipated and sometimes avoided, the woman with urge incontinence never knows when the leakage will occur. Standing, the sound of running water, or hand/dish washing may trigger the leakage. There are several different approaches that may be used to manage urge incontinence; the choice of a specific treatment will depend on the severity of symptoms and the extent to which they interfere with a woman’s quality of life. The majority of urge incontinence is treated with medications called anticholinergics. These agents help relax the bladder, control muscles spasm, and prevent leak-age. For women in whom these medications are ineffective or intolerable, there is a minimally invasive, reversible option called Interstim. This implantable device is a “pacemaker” for the bladder which decreases the symptoms of urgency, frequency, and urge incontinence.

Pelvic organ prolapse is a dropping down of the organs such as the bladder, urethra, uterus, or rectum into the vagina. It is estimated that half of women who have children will experience some form of prolapse later in life. The most common symptom of pelvic organ prolapse is a feeling of fullness in the vagina, and may be noticed as a “soft egg” at the vaginal opening. Loss of bladder control may also be present, often with a feeling that the bladder does not empty well. There are both surgical and nonsurgical approaches for managing pelvic organ prolapse. Treatment should take into consideration which organs are affected, age, desire for future pregnancy, the severity of symptoms, and other medical conditions which may be present. Nonsurgical treatment options include a pessary (a small silicon device, similar to a diaphragm or cervical cap) which is inserted into the vagina to hold the prolapsed organ(s) in place. Special exercises can be used to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor to help lessen the symptoms of prolapse and reduce its progression.

Understanding Incontinence and Pelvic Surgery
Surgery represents the only true “cure” for prolapse and is for those women who are unwilling or unable to utilize nonsurgical options or for those women in whom nonsurgical options are unsatisfactory. Surgery can be performed vaginally, abdominally or laparoscopically and the approach can be largely dependent on the individual physician’s preference.  Seek an experienced professional with an understanding of incontinence and pelvic surgery.

At Savannah Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery Center the most current research and clinical standards are used to provide individualized treatment plans. Our goal at SPRSC is to restore function and improve quality of life for every woman in a compassionate and friendly atmosphere.

About the Author

Dr. Stubbs is a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, completed residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Memorial Medical Center, and received subspecialty training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the only fellowship-trained, board-certified Urogynecologist/Pelvic Reconstructive Surgeon in the region.

Savannah Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery Center is a comprehensive women’s center that was established to diagnose, treat, and educate woman experiencing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Urinary Incontinence. SPRSC provides a wide range of state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment of all types of female urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and reconstructive vaginal surgery.