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Summer Can be STRESSful, Especially for Women with STRESS Urinary Incontinence (SUI)

More than eight million women suffer from stress urinary incontinence (SUI), the involuntary loss of urine that occurs during sudden movements such as coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercising.  Many people are not aware of the prevalence of SUI because sufferers make every effort to hide the embarrassing urine spills that can leak through skirts and pants.  When the warm weather season hits, it becomes increasingly difficult to conceal the telltale signs of SUI: clothing is more revealing, colors are lighter and fabrics are thinner.  According to a multi-sponsor Gallup Survey of 1,270 women with SUI conducted in March, 2002, 91% of women surveyed report changing their behavior to cope with SUI.  Three out of five women reported wearing "absorbent" clothes and one in five women reported dressing in dark clothing. 

Dr. Donnica Moore, M.D. advises women with SUI that summer doesn't have to be stressful, because innovative treatments are available.  "Many women think they have to cope with the leaks season after season," says Dr. Moore, "but instead of hiding SUI they can actually be treating it.  After trying therapies like Kegel exercises, women should consider a minimally-invasive "sling" procedure that restores the body's ability to control urine loss." One such minimally invasive surgical treatment option uses GYNECARE TVT* Tension-free Support for Incontinence.  This procedure takes as little as 30 minutes and many patients can return home the same day.  Evidence of effectiveness is seen immediately.

The GYNECARE TVT device uses a mesh sling to provide support to the middle of the urethra, the section that is strained during physical activities. This positioning of the device provides support only when needed and creates a "tension-free" treatment solution that reduces the risk of over-correcting. Long-term data show that four to six years after treatment, 85 percent of women treated with GYNECARE TVT tension-free support remained dry and an additional 11 percent remained significantly improved.

To date, more than a half million women worldwide have been treated with GYNECARE TVT tension-free support.  As with any surgery of this kind, the procedure should not be performed in pregnant patients or patients who plan future pregnancies, since childbirth can negate the results of the surgery. Although rare, complications associated with the device include injury to blood vessels or nerves, difficulty urinating, and bladder and bowel injury.

Women with SUI who don't seek treatment may find themselves not enjoying summer to the fullest.  Not only are summer-friendly fashions not conducive to concealing leaks, but also many women are more active during the summer time.  Outdoor activities such as tennis or jogging are likely to lead to urine leakage.  For those with SUI and allergies -- a warm weather season nightmare - each allergy-induced sneeze can cause another leak.

Many women don't learn about treatment options because they are embarrassed to talk about the condition.  A recent survey revealed that some health conditions are so embarrassing that 28 percent of women surveyed would keep them a secret even from their doctors. The same survey showed that awareness of treatments can be an important motivator for women to talk to their doctors: While 70 percent of women said they would "definitely" speak to a doctor about SUI, 83 percent said they would if they knew treatment was available.

"I encourage women to overcome any embarrassment or stigma associated with incontinence, and to talk to their doctors about treatment," says Dr. Moore. "The only thing you have to lose is that shirt wrapped around your waist hiding the leaks."

For more information on stress urinary incontinence, click here.

Created: 6/10/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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