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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Letter: Treatment is Available for Unexpected 'Leaks'

Letter: Treatment is Available for Unexpected 'Leaks'

Urinary incontinence is not something to feel shame about. It is a common problem, especially for women. Treatment options are available.

By Dr. Aparna D. Shah
If you have frequent urges to use the bathroom or suffer embarrassing "leaks" after coughing, sneezing or laughing, you’re not alone. Urinary incontinence is an incredibly common problem.  It affects over 25 million adult Americans and is three times more frequent in women, with numbers expected to increase as our population ages and awareness of the condition is raised.
Risk factors associated with urinary incontinence include but are not limited to: Genetics, pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, chronic heavy lifting, prior pelvic surgery or radiation, neurological diseases, or anything that contributes to weakening of pelvic support structures.  
However, despite how common urinary incontinence is, several widespread misconceptions exist. As a result, 50 percent of women suffering from urinary incontinence do not seek medical treatment. 
An estimated 14.8 million U.S. women experience urinary incontinence.  There are many reasons why these women choose not to seek medical treatment for their condition, including feelings of embarrassment and depression. Many women tolerate incontinence by using pads, believing that it is a "normal" part of aging. Sadly, many women believe that nothing can be done for their condition. 
Fortunately, such women can get help. 
The truth is that urinary incontinence affects women of all ages, including younger women, and there are multiple treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical to help alleviate the symptoms.  Most women can be cured or their condition significantly improved with appropriate evaluation and treatment.  Potential treatments options range from behavioral treatments, consisting of Kegel exercises, dietary changes, and bladder drills, to medications and surgical procedures.
What is important to remember is that urinary incontinence is a treatable medical condition, but the condition can only be treated if you ask for help.  At Fallon Clinic’s Urogynecology Department, we help women suffering from incontinence every day and encourage every woman to speak with her primary care physician for more information. Improving the quality of your life starts with seeking treatment for urinary incontinence.  
Dr. Aparna D. Shah practices urogynecology at Fallon Clinic in Westborough and Worcester.

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