No More Suffering In Silence
A dedicated space to treat incontinence takes embarrassment out of the picture
Have you been laughing enough lately? It’s more than just good fun. Laughter is a mood booster, immunity enhancer and pain minimizer all in one moment.
But for some people, laughter isn’t funny. Because a laugh, a cough or a sneeze can cause them to leak urine.
These women and men are among the millions—yes, millions—of people who suffer from urinary or bowel incontinence. This can often be caused by the weakening of the pelvic floor, causing pelvic organs such as the bladder to drop out of their normal position.
Urinary and bowel incontinence, pelvic pain and other related disorders are not only common, but are highly treatable.
You’re Not Alone
The first step to learning your options for treating incontinence is to talk openly with the experts that can help you.
“People may not say anything to their doctor about their symptoms because there is somewhat of a stigma associated with it,” says Mark Blankenship, MD, a colorectal surgeon at Metro Surgical, P.C. and medical director of the Pelvic Floor & Continence Center at St. Joseph's/Candler. “In fact, they may not discuss it with anyone, even a loved one. So what happens is that people feel alone in this.”
The facts are that many men and women suffer with incontinence or pelvic floor disorders for a variety of reasons. The pelvic floor can weaken as a person ages, but injuries to the pelvic area also can lead to urinary or bowel incontinence for younger people. Women who had difficulty during childbirth and men who had radiation for prostate cancer may be affected by either or both types of incontinence.
Not sure if what you’re going through is incontinence? Consider these questions:
- Do you urinate eight times or more during a 24-hour period, including two or more times in the middle of the night?
- Do you often have strong, sudden urges to urinate or defecate?
- Do you wear protection because you are not able to get to the bathroom in time?
- Do you leak urine or feces when you cough, laugh or lift something?
A “Yes” to any of these questions could be a case of incontinence. Now there is a place dedicated to treating you and there’s no need to be embarrassed about your condition, because that’s exactly why the center was created.
Finding Your Center
The Pelvic Floor & Continence Center has a spa-like atmosphere that is designed to put you at ease and provide comfort and support for your body and mind. But what truly makes it unique is its dedicated team of a board-certified colorectal surgeon, board-certified urogynecologists, a nurse practitioner, licensed physical therapists and other specialists. The center not only offers diagnosis and evaluation but also therapy for all kinds of pelvic, urinary and bowel disorders.
Patients can self-refer (if allowed by their insurance) or be referred by their doctor. Evaluations are individualized for each patient’s condition so that the most effective treatment plan can be recommended.
Evaluations may include urodynamics testing to determine the cause of your frequent urination or type of urinary incontinence. This test measures the relationship of pressure and volume in the bladder. In other words, it can assess the bladder's ability to hold urine and then release it completely without starting and stopping. Urodynamics testing is given to both men and women.
Treatment options include medication and other interventions. The Pelvic Floor & Continence Center also offers pelvic physical therapy with a specially-trained physical therapist in a private one-on-one setting. The physical therapist creates treatment programs that improve pelvic floor muscle function, including:
- Pelvic floor exercises: These exercises (also known as kegel exercises) can help both men and women gain more control over their bowel movements and urination.
- Biofeedback: Depending on your symptoms and level of comfort, your physical therapist may gently employ electrodes to measure your pelvic floor muscle activity. The biofeedback obtained can help make you more aware of the correct way to use your pelvic-floor muscles.
- Muscle strengthening exercises: You can learn specific exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles that help support proper bowel and bladder function.
- Electrical stimulation: Your physical therapist may apply gentle electrical stimulation to help improve your awareness of your muscle function.
If Surgery Is Needed
For some patients, medication, physical therapy and other treatments will not be enough to manage the severity of their condition. But that’s not the end of the story. The Pelvic Floor & Continence Center is led by three physicians with decades of experience treating pelvic health and incontinence.
“If we can treat something early, we can give people a better quality of life,” Dr. Blankenship says. “The sooner you are ready for an open, detailed discussion about what you’re going through, the sooner we can start treating you and the better the outcome. We’re ready to help.”
Along with Dr. Blankenship (at left), patients with severe cases may see Barry Schlafstein, MD, (center) or Joseph T. Stubbs III, MD.
For a comprehensive list of conditions treated at the Pelvic Floor & Continence Center, or to make an appointment, call 912-819-4870 or visit here.