To help women suffering with incontinence and/or pelvic organ prolapse, Gundersen Lutheran has created the Continence and Pelvic Prolapse Clinic. Through the clinic we offer a team approach, calling on experts from Gynecology, Urology, Physical Therapy and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation as needed. A thorough physical examination will determine your condition and what may be causing it. The team will then work with you and your primary care provider to establish the best treatment for you.
Urinary incontinence can cause you to dribble when you cough, sneeze, laugh or lift something heavy. You may get sudden and frequent urges to urinate and not always make it to the bathroom in time. Or you may find yourself leaking small amounts of urine throughout the day and getting up often at night. If you have any of these symptoms, you may be one of the 25 million Americans dealing with urinary incontinence. Learn more.
Fecal or bowel incontinence
Loss of bowel control causes an involuntary passage of stool. This can range from occasionally leaking a small amount of stool when passing gas, to a complete loss of control of your bowel movements. Causes include chronic constipation and laxative use, surgery, muscle or nerve damage from childbirth or aging, severe diarrhea, rectal prolapse or injury.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organs are held in place by muscles, ligaments and other structures. If these become weak the uterus, bladder or bowel can drop (prolapse). Pelvic prolapse is most common in women who have had one or more vaginal births. It can also be the result of aging, family history, obesity, chronic cough, frequent constipation or surgery. Symptoms include bleeding or bulging from the vaginal opening, fullness or pressure in the pelvis, frequent urination, bowel irregularities, painful sex and/or lower back pain.
Many treatment options are available
Incontinence and pelvic prolapse are inconvenient, frustrating and embarrassing problems that often cause sufferers to become socially isolated from family and friends. These conditions should not be tolerated because you think it is a normal part of aging. You shouldn't allow conditions like these to interfere with your enjoyment of life because there are treatments available.
Even if you've tried treatments in the past without success, don't lose hope. Ten years ago there were limited options. There are now remarkable advances to offer patients. Depending on cause, frequency and severity of the problem, treatment options range from physical therapy, lifestyle changes and medications to medical devices, in-office procedures and surgery.
Urinary incontinence = UI
Fecal incontinence = FI
Pelvic prolapse = PP
- Physical therapy, with a specially trained physical therapist, includes bladder and bowel retraining and pelvic floor exercises. UI, FI, PP
- Lifestyle changes can help reduce problems including quitting smoking; avoiding alcohol, caffeine and certain foods; adding more fiber; and controlling your weight.
UI, FI, PP
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications. UI, FI, PP
- Botox® is FDA approved for urinary incontinence. Injected into the bladder muscle it reduces muscle spasms that produce urgency. UI
- Biofeedback can teach the proper way to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, sense when it's time to go and improve control of bladder and bowel. UI, FI
- Bulking is an in-office procedure in which material is injected to "bulk up" the tissues surrounding the urethra to help it close more effectively to prevent leakage. UI
- Neuromodulation or bladder and bowel pacemakers use mild impulses to stimulate nerves that control bladder and/or bowel function. UI, FI
- Acupuncture can be sued to help improve bowel and bladder control. UI, FI
- A pessary is a device that is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs. PP
- If surgery is needed, there are several options available depending on age, general health, lifestyle and personal preference. UI, FI, PP
We know every woman's needs are unique. Our expert team of providers in the Continence and Pelvic Prolapse Clinic will work with you to determine the best treatment options and get you back to living life like you remember it. To schedule an appointment, call (608) 775-2277, or (800) 362-9567, ext. 52277.