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Urinary Incontinence

If you are experiencing bladder problems that have you constantly looking for a bathroom, we have options to help. Kathleen Martin, M.D., FACOG, one of Maine’s leading urogynecologists, is an expert in treating female incontinence.

Between 80-90 % of women who seek treatment for bladder issues experience significant improvement in their symptoms. Your road to a better life starts with a medical evaluation followed by a review of treatment options appropriate for your urinary incontinence.

Start enjoying life again! Call Dr. Martin today at 777-4200 for an appointment or fill out our request form for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions About Urinary Incontinence

Bladder Control Brochure (pfd format)

How common is urinary incontinence among women?
Incontinence is a common and very treatable condition affecting nearly 30-50% of women.

What causes urinary incontinence?

There are many causes of bladder control problem in women.  The most common are:

  • Pregnancy, labor & delivery
  • Accidental injury
  • Surgery
  • Infection
  • Radiation
  • Lifestyle (smoking and consuming caffeinated beverages)

Types of urinary incontinence:

Stress Incontinence:
The loss of urine when you exert pressure (stress) on your bladder through coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting something heavy.

Urge Incontinence: 
The sudden and intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine. You may also need to urinate frequently.

Overflow Incontinence:
Being unable to empty your bladder, causing the bladder to overflow and leak frequently or continually.

Mixed Incontinence:
If you experience symptoms of more than one type of urinary incontinence, you have mixed incontinence.

What are the most common and effective treatments available?

Lifestyle changes:
Performing specialized exercises, bladder training, fluid and diet management, and physical therapy.

There are a number of medications available depending on what type of incontinence you experience.  Medications are usually used in conjunction with behavioral techniques.

Physical Therapy and biofeedback:
Biofeedback displays pelvic muscle activity on a computer screen and is used in treatment to guide pelvic muscle exercises. Treatment also consists of monitoring urinary function through the completion of a “bladder diary.”

Medical devices:
There are several devices that can be placed in the urethra or vagina to prevent leaks temporarily.

There are numerous surgical options available to women today.  Many are minimally-invasive outpatient procedures, requiring little or no hospital stay, and a short recovery time.

I’ve heard that surgery doesn’t work for very long.  Is that true?
In the appropriate patient the success rate using a sling urethropexy is 90 percent.  Patients with obesity, other medical conditions such as diabetes, or smokers may have less success.

I’ve heard that slings made of synthetic mesh can be harmful or cause problems.  Is that true?
The sling material is made of polypropylene and has been used in the US since 1996 with excellent result.  There are risks to using the mesh, including the mesh eroding into the urethra or vagina and thereby becoming infected.  This is not a common problem.  The FDA posted a mesh warning to all patients and physicians using mesh in the vagina in 2008.  The sling procedure is the old standard throughout the world for use in patients with stress incontinence.

How can I prevent urinary incontinence?
One of the best ways to prevent stress incontinence is to do regular Kegel exercise.  Pilates is another option for women to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.  Keeping your weight in a healthy zone and avoiding excessive caffeine will definitely help.

St. Mary's Health System • 93 Campus Avenue • Lewiston, ME 04240