Electric Stimulation of the Pelvic Floor Muscles

During electric stimulation (or e-stim for short), sticky pads are stuck to the skin around the vagina or a little piece of plastic is placed into the vagina or rectum. A very small amount of electricity goes into this pad or piece of plastic and makes the muscles move and contract.  These contractions are exercises for the pelvic floor muscles. With these exercises, the pelvic floor muscles can get stronger — just like an arm muscle that gets regular exercise. E-stim is usually started by a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse or physical therapist. He or she will work with you one or more times per week for several weeks.  Practitioners usually incorporate biofeedback at the same time as the e-stim, but not always.Continue reading

Bulking Agents to Restore Urinary Continence

collagen used a bulking agent

Collagen is one of several bulking agents that may used to help restore continence.

Injections of one of several kinds of bulking agents is an outpatient procedure that may be used to restore urinary continence.  In this procedure a bulking agent (such as collagen, silicon and Teflon) is injected into the neck of the bladder.  This bulks the bladder neck and helps compress the urethra (the tube that leads urine out of the body), and thus helps to prevent urinary leakage.

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Biofeedback Therapy for Incontinence

biofeedback is a loop

Biofeedback provides you with immediate information about how well you are performing pelvic floor exercises.

Biofeedback is used to treat many conditions such as headaches, high blood pressure, and incontinence. Biofeedback helps you learn how to control certain functions in the body. You can get information from a computer that translates your body functions into pictures or numbers to help you learn to how to improve your muscle control.Continue reading

Artificial Sphincter Surgery for Urinary Incontinence

male artificial sphincter

Drawing of  a male artificial sphincter to control urination.

Everyone has a pelvic floor: it is a hammock of muscles that lies in your pelvis, supporting the organs (bowel, bladder, and – in women – the uterus) in that area and keeping them in the correct place. In your pelvic floor are a few muscles that are called “sphincters”. There is an internal and external sphincter surrounding the urethra (the tube that takes urine from the bladder out of your body). These urinary sphincters naturally contract around the urethra and keep urine inside your body until you relax the sphincters at a socially-acceptable time (generally when you’re using a toilet). As the urge to urinate increases, you can voluntarily increase the contraction of your sphincters to gain more control.Continue reading

Smoking and Incontinence

Man smoking a cigarette

Smoking may lead to bladder leakage.

Current and previous cigarette smokers are at an increased risk of experiencing stress urinary incontinence (SUI), bladder cancer, and other major health problems.  Cigarette smoking causes chronic coughing. A constant cough can damage the muscles of the pelvic floor. When these muscles are damaged, this can cause urine to leak due to a loss of stability and strength of the pelvic floor. Smoking is also known to be a bladder irritant, which could cause overactive bladder (OAB) symptoms.Continue reading

Pregnancy and Childbirth

pregnancy

Pregnancy can put extra strain on the bladder and bowels.

It is common knowledge that pregnant women urinate more often. This is partly due to the extra weight on their bladder, but many do not know that women can experience urinary incontinence during their pregnancy. For some, urinary incontinence continues or worsens after delivery of the baby, but for most, symptoms will go away after giving birth or shortly after the birth. Continue reading