Surgery is now available as a form of treatment for those with stress incontinence. This type of urinary incontinence is a condition characterized with urine leakage when a person sneezes, coughs or laughs. A person may consider surgery if noninvasive approaches weren't able to successfully control the symptoms. But before you do, you must first consider the following facts:
Surgery success is variable, meaning it differs from one person to another. But generally, it has been found that about 85 to 90 percent of women who undergo incontinence surgery are completely dry after a year. Experts do point out that the surgery is not a guarantee of a cure.
Kegels are exercises that can effectively strengthen the pelvic floor. Sometimes, a person doesn't really have to undergo surgery but should only be committed to this exercise. If you're able to do Kegels several times a day, you can expect about 70 percent improvement on your condition. If not, then that's the time when you can talk to your doctor about the surgical treatment.
Also known as the tension-free sling procedure, the mid-urethral sling is the most popular form of surgical treatment for stress incontinence. In this procedure, the surgeon uses a thin strip of material such as synthetic mesh or the patient's own tissue to support the urethra and bladder. The purpose of this strip is to help shut off the flow of urine when you cough, sneeze, or do anything else that can trigger leakage.
While stress continence surgery is effective, there can be potential side effects such as:
- pain during sex
- urinary problems
Sling procedures are notably lower in risk of complications because they require smaller pieces of mesh. Mesh particularly those made with synthetic materials has been associated with higher rates of infection.
One of the things that must be done to ensure the success of the surgery is finding the right surgeon. Seek a surgeon who has done fellowship in urogynecology or female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. The more experienced a surgeon is, the better. Ask how many surgeries the doctor does in a year. Don't forget to ask the complications with the procedure and how the doctor has dealt with these in the past.
Sling procedures can be done on an outpatient basis. This means, you don't have to stay in the hospital overnight during the recovery stage. The surgical treatment can also be done using local anesthesia. Any pain felt after the surgery can be alleviated with ibuprofen and other over-the-counter medications.
You may need a catheter after the surgery if you experience any difficulty in urinating on your own. If the difficulty in urination persists, contact your doctor. It may be necessary to adjust or even remove the sling.
After the surgery, it's important to limit physical activity to allow the body especially the surgical area to heal well.
During the first few weeks, avoid:
- heavy lifting
- using tampons
- having sexual intercourse