Incontinence…What to Do When Kegels Aren’t Cutting it
By Eileen Spatz
Urinary stress incontinence (USI) refers to that pesky leakage of urine that makes a surprise appearance when we cough, laugh, run, jump, or sneeze—in other words when something has placed pressure (stress) on the bladder. USI is the bane of at least twice as many women as men, as one of the key causal factors involves having had multiple vaginal childbirths.
Other causes include aging and menopause, co-occurring pelvic organ prolapse, and complications following pelvic surgery. In men, the condition is usually related to prostate surgery or physical trauma.
A weakening of the pelvic muscles that help shut off the flow of urine from the urethra can allow it to flow unintentionally, resulting in anything from a few drops to escape up to an involuntary flowing stream to occur. Due to anatomical differences, each person’s stress incontinence is unique, with stress-inducing activities possibly causing leakage in one person but not in the other.
For someone who has urinary stress incontinence, it can be darn right embarrassing, to the point that it may negatively impact quality of life. No one wants to risk having an “accident” while laughing at somebody’s joke at a party, right? In response, folks who suffer from this dastardly condition may opt to just shun social gatherings altogether, taken hostage to the unpredictable bladder control.
Help for Urinary Stress Incontinence
While to date there is no medication that targets stress incontinence specifically, there are some solutions for treating USI, including the following:
- Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises, which involve contracting the same muscles (sphincter) used to stop the flow of urine, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These can be practiced discreetly pretty much anywhere or anytime.
- Surgery. A more serious case of USI may benefit from surgical interventions. This is an invasive surgical procedure that involves creating a sling that provides a support structure for the urethra and bladder.
- Collagen injections. Collagen injections are less invasive and involve directly injecting collagen into the supportive tissues of the urethra, which can increase pressure on the urethra and strengthen the sphincter muscle.
- HIFEM technology. High-intensity focused electromagnetic technology (HIFEM), branded as Emsella, is a non-invasive treatment that strengthens the pelvic floor muscles without surgery.
About Emsella for Treatment of Stress Incontinence
While most women are aware of the Kegel exercise, and may diligently practice the muscle squeezing stealthily while behind the wheel of the car or sitting at one’s desk, Kegels do require willful adherence to consistently help stave off incontinence. Now there is a treatment, available through board-certified dermatologists, which uses electromagnetic energy to induce muscle contractions galore, far outpacing the effects of the simple Kegel exercise. In fact, according to Dr. Robert Weiss and Dr. Margaret Weiss, owners of Maryland Dermatology Laser Skin & Vein Institute, the Emsella technology provides a viable option to having surgery to treat USI.
So how exactly does the treatment work? The Emsella is simply a chair that one sits down on fully clothed for a 28-minute session. During this period, the deep muscle stimulation produced by electromagnetic fields is applied right through the chair targeting the supramaximal pelvic muscles. As Dr. Margaret Weiss explains, “It’s completely noninvasive, it’s a chair, you sit down, it doesn’t hurt, and it has the effect of doing Kegel exercises 10,000 times.” Dr. Robert Weiss continues, “The key with this technology is it can get your muscles to contract so much faster than the brain’s ability to send a signal to the muscle to contract.”
While stress incontinence will impact a person to varying degrees, if it becomes such a bother that it negatively impacts quality of life then it is time to consider some treatment options. Why not begin with the noninvasive Emsella technology, that or maybe embark on a 10,000 Kegels-a-day marathon? Depends be damned!