Urinary incontinence, or unexpected leakage of urine, affects 1 in 3 women during their lifetime and can have a severe impact on a woman’s quality of life. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a condition where unwanted bladder leaks happen during normal daily activities, typically with coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking, moving from sitting to standing, and exercise. This type of incontinence is most prevalent in young to middle aged women, although it can happen at any age.
“Bladder leaks can occur after the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding tissues that support the urethra (the tube through which urine leaves the bladder) cannot provide adequate support. Everyday movements and actions like sneezing can cause the bladder to leak and cause a woman significant distress” says Jennifer Roberts, DO, OB/GYN, with Hannibal Regional Medical Group.
The most common risk factors that increase your chance of developing urinary incontinence include:
1. Age – As you age it’s easier for muscles to start weakening.
2. Pregnancy and delivery – Deliveries requiring additional interventions, such as forceps, have the greatest risk.
3. Body weight – Being overweight or obese because the extra weight puts pressure on the abdomen and pelvic floor muscles.
4. Previous pelvic surgery – Hysterectomy.
It’s common for medical providers to treat SUI with bulking agents. These agents are special materials that are injected into the urethra to give it additional support. Bulking agents are commonly used by other medical specialties as well and have made drastic improvements in patients’ lives.
Dr. Roberts treats her patients suffering from incontinence with Bulkamid (a bulking agent), a bulking gel that is 97.5% water based. The Bulkamid procedure is a same day, minimally-invasive (no incision) procedure performed under light anesthesia and only takes 10-15 minutes. The procedure is performed by inserting a very small, lighted camera in the urethra. The camera (also called a scope) provides the visual recognition needed to precisely and accurately inject the gel. Women typically go home within a couple of hours after the procedure. “The ultimate goal of injecting the gel in the urethra is to support and bulk up the urethra to decrease and possibly eliminate leaking. It’s exciting to finally have a minimally invasive treatment for incontinence, that does not use mesh, that can provide long term relief,” comments Dr. Roberts.
Dr. Roberts provides obstetrical and gynecological care for all ages, pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. She has special interests in robotic gynecologic surgery, minimally invasive urogynecology, and osteopathic manipulative medicine during and after pregnancy. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Roberts or to learn more about Hannibal Regional Medical Group visit hannibalregional.org or call 573-629-3500.