1. How successful is surgery for urinary incontinence?
The success of surgery for urinary incontinence depends to a large extent upon the type of surgery performed and to a lesser extent on the type of incontinence experienced by a woman. The best surgical procedures cure about 85% of women who undergo surgery. Examples of the best surgeries include the Burch procedure and most sling type procedures. These surgeries are designed to cure stress incontinence.
2. How do I find a health care provider in my area experienced in treating incontinence?
The Canadian Continence Foundation maintains a list of specialists across Canada. For information about treatment in your area, or for more information about incontinence, see their web address under 'websites'.
3. How long will it take for the medication for urinary incontinence to work? Is it something I must take lifelong?
The most commonly used medications for the bladder work by keeping the bladder muscle relaxed to control frequent voiding and urgency incontinence. They begin to work immediately and should produce results within a couple of days of use. These medications are used to control your symptoms, not to cure the problem. You will have to take the medication as long as you have these symptoms.
4. Can you have intercourse with a pessary?
It is possible to have intercourse with some models of pessaries in place in the vagina. This is not possible for all women, but is most likely to be possible for women using incontinence ring pessaries or ring pessaries for prolapse. However, it is recommended that pessaries be removed before intercourse.
5. Does catheterization or urodynamics cause bladder infections?
Catheterization performed carefully and in a clean fashion should not cause bladder infection. Short-term catheterization, as is the case for urodynamics, is much less likely to cause infection than is a catheter left in to drain the bladder for several days.
6. If my mother had bladder surgery, does that mean that I will have to have surgery?
Bladder surgery is used to cure stress incontinence by restoring support to the urethra. Damage to the support of the urethra can be caused by childbirth but also by constant strain on pelvic supports caused by heavy lifting or chronic straining or coughing. Your mother needed surgery because she had damaged support for her urethra and was not able to correct the problem with conservative treatments. You will only require surgery if you experience the same problem and conservative methods of management don't work for you (e.g., kegel's exercises, pessaries).
7. What is interstitial cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis is a condition in which the bladder lining becomes inflammed. This causes pain and frequent voiding. It is diagnosed by looking into the bladder (cystoscopy). There are a variety of treatments for interstitial cystitis which include dietary changes and medications.
8. What should I do if I see blood in my urine?
Blood in the urine (hematuria) means that there is a problem somewhere in the urinary tract. Common causes of hematuria include bladder infection or a kidney stone. Another more rare cause may be a tumor somewhere in the urinary tract. However, the incidence of bladder cancer in women is very low. (The rate of bladder cancer in women in Nova Scotia is approximately 1 in 10,000 women). You should tell your doctor immediately if you see blood in your urine. He or she will arrange the appropriate investigations and treatments.