Stress Urinary Incontinence: Treatment Options

WebMD Live Events Transcript

U.S. speed skater Bonnie Blair was one of the fastest women on ice. But after giving birth, she was slowed down by a common post-childbirth condition -- stress urinary incontinence (SUI), the leaking of urine during day-to-day activities. Blair and her doctor, urogynecologist Dennis P. Miller, MD, joined us on Jan. 13, 2005, to chat about Bonnie's experience and discuss treatment options for SUI.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Bonnie and Dr. Miller.

MILLER:
Thanks for having us.

BONNIE:
Ditto.

MODERATOR:
Bonnie, please tell us how you discovered that you had stress urinary incontinence (SUI)?

BONNIE:
About two months after I had my first child I wanted to get back to my active lifestyle. I went for a run and got about a half a block and my shorts were soaked. It was embarrassing; it was disheartening; it was frustrating. And I thought, is this something normal that happens after you have a child? It took me a couple of months before I discussed the situation with my husband and about a year before I brought it up with a doctor.

MILLER:
Bonnie's story is so typical, which is why we're happy to have someone people respect so much come forward and tell her story. Women, on average, will suffer the condition three to ten years before talking to their doctor or even their husband about it, and they end up suffering in silence.

Bonnie: "I thought, is this something normal that happens after you have a child?"

MEMBER QUESTION:
Bonnie, I understand your reluctance to talk about this problem. What finally changed your mind about talking to the doctor?

BONNIE:
When I went to my doctor's visit I believe it was more her asking me, do you have a problem, and with leaking of urine. She had known that I had had a difficult delivery with my first child and that's why I had switched doctors to begin with. It was really something more she brought up to me and then I kind of let it all out, and was then freer to talk about it.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What is a urogynecologist? Do I have to see one or can I see my gynecologist or should I see my family doctor for leaking?

MILLER:
That's a good question, and it depends on whether you ever discussed it with a physician before. A urogynecologist is a physician who specializes in problems that fall between gynecology and urology, notably, incontinence and prolapse, problems specific to women. It never hurts to first discuss it with your primary care provider; however, it is often treated by a specialist.

BONNIE:
My normal OB doctor sent me to Dr. Miller who then performed the surgery on me.

MODERATOR:
Bonnie, what did your doctor recommend as a first treatment?

BONNIE:
I think first you have to realize that you need to make the decision you're done having children before having the surgery. Since I had only had one child, even though my doctor discussed surgery with me at that visit, the year after I had my child, I knew I still wanted more children. So at that time I tried doing what they call pelvic floor exercises; I tried weights and electrical stimulation, and really gained little or no ground. Then we decided, because now I had had my two children, and my husband and I knew we were done having kids, that it was time for surgery. I had the surgery a year ago December. And I have been symptom free ever since.