Story by: Krissy Raque on March 15, 2019
After the birth of her first child, Donna Gomez began to experience the beginning symptoms of urinary stress incontinence, or the involuntary loss or leakage of urine. She had gained weight during her pregnancy, and carrying a 10-pound, six-ounce baby put a lot of pressure on her bladder. The combination caused occasional post-delivery bladder leakage that was bothersome but manageable.
However, Donna’s loss of bladder control worsened after the birth of her second child in 2006.
“Every time I would cough, sneeze, jump or laugh — which I do often — I would have an accident,” said Donna. She feared this condition would be her new reality.
The urogynecology specialists with Norton Women’s Care treat women with pelvic floor disorders and related urinary disorders.
Millions of women experience urinary stress incontinence from any movement that puts pressure on the bladder, including exercising and routine motions. Many assume this condition is part of aging or menopause, but this is not the case. Loss of bladder control and an overactive bladder can be treated, managed or eliminated with a proper diagnosis.
Movement is part of Donna’s daily job as an emergency room nurse, and urinary incontinence became a burden in her day-to-day life. The simple motion of raising her arms to hang IV fluids or set monitors for patients caused her to have an accident.
“It was embarrassing,” Donna said. “I felt like I always had to wear a pad during my shift or carry a change of clothes with me at all times.”
When her issues interfered with her job and daily lifestyle, her gynecologist recommended a visit with Marjorie Pilkinton, M.D., urogynecologist with Norton Urogynecology Center.
Urogynecologists complete four years of residency training in obstetrics and gynecology, followed by a fellowship in urogynecology and pelvic reconstructive surgery. This specialized training prepares them for treating women with pelvic floor disorders such as urinary stress incontinence.
“Dr. Pilkinton was amazing,” Donna said. “She was straight to the point, discussed various procedure options and their success rates, evaluated me for other issues that could be the source of my issues and made referrals as needed.”
In June 2017, Donna chose to undergo a minimally-invasive procedure called tension-free vaginal taping with cystoscopy. Tension-free taping, or the midurethral sling system, is designed to stabilize the urethra during physical activity to prevent leakage known as stress incontinence. According to Dr. Pilkinton, the procedure takes 30 to 45 minutes, and the midurethral sling procedures have cure rates between 80 to 95 percent in various studies.
“The goal is to improve bladder control, allowing you to return to the activities you enjoy without the constant worry of leakage,” Dr. Pilkinton said. “Most women see results right after the procedure with return to full activity within four weeks in most cases.”
While Donna experienced a little discomfort and discharge the first couple of days following the procedure, she was able to return to work in about five weeks. She believes she could have resumed work earlier, but due to the physical challenges that come with a job in nursing, she was cautious.
The procedure was put to the test when Donna came down with a virus recently. A 24-hour stomach bug caused her to get sick, and despite vomiting, Donna experienced no urinary leakage — a feat that wouldn’t have happened without the surgery, and one she referred to as an “amazing moment.”
Today, Donna is healthy and grateful for the procedure.
“I am so glad I had this procedure,” Donna said. “Now I can actually move and reposition and hop and jump without fear of leakage.”
There are many treatment options for stress incontinence, besides surgery. Consultation with a gynecologist or urogynecologist will allow you to make the best decision for treatment. Don’t assume that being unable to hold your bladder is natural or normal. Like Donna, you can experience relief and resume your life without worry.
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