Urinary incontinence in women, one of the most prevalent side effects of childbirth, is characterized by a loss of urine when laughing, sneezing, coughing or exercising.
Such incontinence results from tissue of the pelvic floor being stretched during childbirth, which causes the bladder to “fall.” Like a deflated balloon, the tissue does not return to its original size and shape. The incontinence worsens over time due to a loss of elasticity that naturally occurs with age.
Traditionally, older generations considered urinary loss incontinence an acceptable part of having children that could only be corrected through major surgery. However, women today are more concerned about the impact of urine loss on their daily lives and are more willing to seek treatment.
New technology makes repairing a fallen bladder easy and safe. The minimally-invasive procedure takes approximately 12 minutes to perform in an outpatient surgical center using a combination of a light general and local anesthetic.
Through a single one-inch or less incision in the vagina that leaves no visible scar, a mesh nylon sling is placed under the bladder, essentially adding a new layer to the pelvic floor. The weaving of scar tissue through the lattice-like sling further protects the bladder from sagging.
Following the procedure, women are advised not to lift anything heavy or engage in rigorous physical activity for approximately seven to 10 days before gradually easing back into their normal routines. The procedure does not preclude a woman from having another baby; however, doing so will most likely take her back to square one. Fortunately, the procedure can be repeated.
Scott Crawford, MD, FACOG, is a gynecologist on staff at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk to your doctor or call Crawford’s Ahwatukee office at (480) 759-9191.