Aging. Childbirth. Laughter. Each of these can contribute to a problem that most women do not want to talk about — urinary incontinence.
While urinary leakage is common among women, with an estimated 13 million women dealing with some form of incontinence, it is not considered normal. And, you don’t have to live with it. Today, there are more treatment options for incontinence than ever before, and most cases can be controlled, if not cured.
The Edward-Elmhurst Women’s Center for Pelvic Medicine offers a wide range of urogynecologic services. Our goal is to help you overcome incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic floor disorders, and more so you can get back to life as usual.
Types of incontinence
There are three types of incontinence (leaking of urine):
- Stress incontinence results when certain activities, such as sneezing, laughing or exercise, lead to increased pressure on the bladder and result in a small amount of leakage.
- Urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, is a loss of bladder control following an overwhelming urge to urinate. Symptoms may also include urinary frequency and getting up often at night to urinate.
- Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder will not empty completely, which causes an overflow, frequency and leakage of urine.
Causes of incontinence and pelvic disorders
Weakness or atrophy in the pelvic floor muscles or structural defects of the pelvic organs can cause or contribute to incontinence. Increased tension in the pelvic floor muscles can cause or contribute to pelvic pain. Life experiences, such as childbirth, infertility treatment, menopause, and certain disease treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can also cause or contribute to these issues.
Men can experience incontinence, too. Men with nerve damage or muscle weakness due to trauma or as part of back pain, as well as those undergoing cancer treatment that affects the pelvic area, such as radiation treatment for prostate cancer, may experience different levels of incontinence. Pelvic floor rehabilitation can help to resolve these issues.
Your care team
Led by a group of experienced urogynecologists, nurses and women’s health physical therapists, the Edward-Elmhurst Women's Center for Pelvic Medicine offers a range of treatment options for urinary incontinence, pelvic pain and other pelvic disorders.
Our care team also includes a physiatrist, Dr. Min Kim of the Edward-Elmhurst Neurosciences Institute, who is specially trained in the non-surgical treatment of pelvic floor disorders. Dr. Kim provides a thorough exam and prescribes treatment as member of the patient’s care team, which includes physical therapists certified in pelvic floor rehabilitation.
Treatment options at the Women’s Center for Pelvic Medicine
After we meet with you and obtain a complete medical history, we’ll develop your individualized treatment plan, which may include a combination of treatments based on your unique needs:
If you have complicated symptoms, your doctor may recommend urodynamic testing, which is a diagnostic study of the function of the lower urinary tract (the bladder and urethra). The test involves measurements of urine pressure and flow rate to evaluate how the bladder carries out its functions. The results can provide insight into why other treatments have failed and/or what is causing the incontinence. Testing is completed on an outpatient basis.
We may recommend Kegel exercises to help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. "E-stim", a non-invasive, low-voltage electrical stimulation to the pelvic floor muscles, can help calm overactive bladder muscles and improve muscle strength. Biofeedback can help increase awareness of pelvic floor muscle contractions. It may be as simple as a hand mirror used to observe muscle contractions, or as complex as an electronic device that detects when pelvic muscles contract.
With this treatment option, patients maintain a journal and learn how to consciously alter the bladder's schedule for storing and emptying urine. This technique can be quite effective for urge and overflow incontinence.
This is an option for persistent and severe stress incontinence that doesn't respond to conservative treatment.
TVT is one of the most successful surgeries for stress incontinence. Slings are placed in the body to prevent stress incontinence by supporting the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body).
Like incontinence, pelvic pain is often treatable. A physical therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan based on the type and cause of the pain. Your plan may include: biofeedback, e-stim or other modalities to address pain, as well as specific exercises and manual treatments designed to realign joints and strengthen or relax muscles. Your therapist will also work with you to develop a self-maintenance program to prevent recurrence of symptoms.
A procedure that allows your doctor to look into your bladder and urethra with a special telescope, called a cystoscope.
Candidates for urogynecologic services
Candidates for urogyne services include women who have been diagnosed with pelvic pain, vaginal prolapse, pelvic floor disorders, overactive bladder or incontinence. Women who have had a hysterectomy or a C-section may also benefit from treatment to prevent pelvic floor problems.
Insurance coverage for pelvic floor treatments
If your insurance plan covers physical therapy, it probably covers pelvic floor rehabilitation as well. Check with your insurance provider to confirm your coverage or call our insurance specialist at 630-527-3252.
Get more information or make an appointment
Our expanded Women’s Center for Pelvic Medicine is located on the Edward Hospital campus, at 120 Spalding Drive, Medical Office Building 2, Suite 305, in Naperville. For more information or to make an appointment for an evaluation, please call 630-527-5120.
Learn more about physical therapy for urinary incontinence in women and pelvic pain.