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Urinary Incontinence & Treatments

young female patient smiling at female nurse

Urinary incontinence refers to the loss of bladder control. While most women experience incontinence due to weakened bladder support tissues or overactive bladder muscles, there can be an underlying problem like vaginal prolapse or nerve damage that causes incontinence.

Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence

  • Overactive bladder that causes frequent and strong urges to go to the bathroom. 
  • Urge to return to the bathroom several times after urinating to completely empty your bladder. 
  • Stress incontinence from aging, pregnancy (especially multiple pregnancies), specific medical conditions and various lifestyle activities can lead to weakened pelvic support muscles and increased pressure on the bladder, causing mild to extreme leaking. You may experience leaking when you sneeze, laugh, lift heavy objects or exercise.

Urinary Incontinence Treatments

Urinary incontinence affects millions of women each year, especially women over age 40 or who have had multiple pregnancies. Our physicians have special training in urodynamics testing – a way to measure the function of the bladder – and we regularly treat common types of urinary incontinence.

You may experience temporary incontinence from certain diuretic drinks, foods or medications that stimulate your bladder and increase your urine or from medical conditions like a urinary tract infection. Temporary incontinence can easily be treated.

If your incontinence is chronic, we can bring relief through a personalized treatment plan targeted to your needs. This may include any of the following, depending on the cause:

  • Dietary considerations
  • Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles
  • Bladder training to increase the time between urination
  • Bladder sling
  • Minimally invasive surgery

Bladder Sling

There are several surgical procedures designed to correct urinary incontinence and the most common option chosen – and the least invasive – is a mid-urethral sling. A thin strip of synthetic mesh material is placed under the mid-portion of the urethra to act as a hammock to lift and support.

  • Success rate of bladder sling surgery is 90%. This will generally resolve the problem completely and immediately. Slings also have a long-term success rate, proven by multiple scientific studies.
  • Bladder sling surgery is quick – usually less than 30 minutes – and is done with minimally invasive techniques with little or no pain or scarring and a very short recovery time. This is an outpatient procedure, using only minimal anesthesia. 
  • You typically can be back at work in two to three days. Most surgeries are done through the vagina, while others have tiny external incisions.
  • Nationally, complications with bladder sling surgery are less than 1% – and even less through the history of Fort Sanders Women’s Specialists. Hundreds of thousands of women have had this type of surgery, and we have great experience with bladder slings.

Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery: Burch Urethropexy

We perform Burch Urethropexy, a minimally invasive robotic procedure done with the da Vinci system that requires only four to five, 8-millimeter incisions. The procedure repositions the urethra and bladder to keep urine from leaking under stress. To relieve pressure, the urethra and nearby bladder neck are stitched to the lining of the pelvic bone.

It is an outpatient surgery, so you typically can go home the same day. The recovery usually is one to two weeks.

Minimally invasive surgery offers patients many advantages, including a smaller incision, less postoperative pain, reduced risk of surgical complications and a faster recovery.

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