These four personal stories below describe situations that led to different forms of urinary incontinence. Each one of these people has found treatment or management options that have restored their bladder control, comfort, and confidence.
Post-Prostatectomy Incontinence (male)
Often following surgery to remove the prostate gland, men experience urinary incontinence. This causes a specific kind of stress urinary incontinence (SUI), known as post-prostatectomy incontinence (PPI). SUI is a condition where physical stress on the bladder (i.e., coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting) causes the bladder to leak because the urethra is unable to stay closed.
He went to see a neurologist and discovered that he had prostate cancer. At the time there were only two options available to treat the condition and they were a radical prostatectomy or radiation treatment. He decided to have the prostatectomy. After the prostatectomy came the incontinence problems. His quality of life began to decrease, intimacy with his wife and playing with his grandchildren became quite difficult. So, he began to look for some ways to alleviate the problem, and first tried collagen injections. This worked for a short time, although the leakage started to increase over time. Then he investigated implants and had an artificial urinary sphincter (AUS), a device that is used to control the passage of urine from the bladder, implanted. Now his days are dry. He is active in Us Too®, a prostate cancer education and support group, and encourages all who have incontinence to speak to their physicians and find a solution that suits their needs. He travels to tell others about his joys of being cancer-free and continent!
Overactive Bladder (female)
Overactive bladder is a condition that causes people to experience an increase in urinary frequency due to involuntary bladder contractions which occur once the bladder is full. This overwhelming feeling of urgency persists to the point that the urge to urinate results in urine leakage or “accidents” before reaching the toilet. Frequency is considered to be urinating more than eight times per day.
She used to wear dark clothes, pray that there would be no bumper-to-bumper traffic, never go any place where there wasn’t a bathroom near, work from home, and all of her summer activities involved water. She had given up hiking, and in her opinion, dating was not even an option. She had a series of problems like migraines and sciatic nerve damage from an injury in her cervical and thoracic lumbar spinal areas. Though she was already being treated for the aforementioned, she had an inkling that something further was happening and sensed it was female-related. She wasn’t sure if it was just a urinary tract infection (UTI) or what. So, she went to see a doctor and tried some antibiotics with no avail. Finally, she went to see an urologist, and was diagnosed with overactive bladder (OAB), a condition where there is an urgency to urinate. Together, she and her physician decided that a trans-dermal patch worn on the thigh and buttocks would be the best treatment option for her. Now she is in control and works outside the home, staying busy and active.
Stress Urinary Incontinence (female)Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a common condition. Aging, hormonal changes, nerve injury during childbirth and pelvic surgery can all be contributers to developing SUI.
She was a very private and personal woman who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, and didn’t want to discuss her episodes of bladder leakage with her family or friends. While reading, she discovered that incontinence is common among those with MS. She soon realized that she had a problem when she bent over to put something away and lost all bladder control. After talking with her daughter-in-law about the incidents, she went to an appointment with an urologist and completed urodynamics testing. She then learned that she had been dealing with stress incontinence (SI), which is when the pelvic muscles have been weakened or damaged causing the bladder to leak when there is pressure on it. In her case, she had many treatment options. She wanted to have surgery, but had a vacation planned. Therefore, her doctor fitted her for a pessary (a device worn in the vagina that may stop urine leakage) to hold the urethra in place during her trip. When she returned she had a pelvicol sling implanted. She had to take it slow after the surgery, though her continence has returned. And now she is open to others, telling her story with pride.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (female)
She is a teacher with two kids and an active husband whose life had begun to be inhibited by lower back pressure. She has had a hysterectomy, and began to feel back pressure years after the surgery. Over time, she would take pain relievers several times daily to make it through the day. Then the pressure turned to pain. So, she could no longer take her daily walk and do all the activities that she was accustomed to doing. The pain became unbearable. She went to see her OBGYN who suggested that she go to an urogynecologist. The urogynecologist diagnosed her with pelvic organ prolapse (POP), a condition when the support structures of the pelvic organs weaken or break allowing the pelvic organs to “drop”. It was suggested that she have surgery to correct the problem. Yet, she was a bit weary or surgery, because of the pain she had with her hysterectomy. After much convincing from her doctor, she proceeded by having the surgery. The same day of the surgery she was able to get up and walk comfortably. Her pain is now gone, and she has returned to her busy life. She enjoys telling her story and has encouraged many friends to openly communicate with their doctor about changes with their bodies. She had her surgery June 19, 2005, and could not be happier with the results.
If you are interested in talking with someone who has been treated for incontinence, please contact our Media Relations and Communications Associate, Neely Gilbert, at (843) 377.0900 x 208.