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Regaining Control for a Better Life

It often happens after the baby’s born. When you cough, sneeze, jump or run, you may get that embarrassing little dribble.

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI), or a leaky bladder, is a little secret that affects women all too often. The condition is prompted by physical movement or activity –coughing, sneezing, running or heavy lifting – that puts pressure on the bladder.

While this condition is very common, many women choose to suffer silently instead of finding a solution. Christin Bartels is a mother of two and said she endured a leaky bladder for way too many years.

“I wish I would have done this years ago, instead of worrying about what would happen when I sneezed or lifted something heavy,” she says.

When Christin was pregnant for the first time, she was warned about many changes that could potentially occur. SUI was mentioned, but she didn’t think it would actually happen to her.

“But it did,” says the Sioux Falls woman. “When my first son was born 12 years ago, I didn’t think I’d actually have problems with a leaky bladder. I was wrong.”

And after her second son was born the problem escalated, causing Christin to be very self-conscious.

“Just trying to run and play with my boys was difficult a lot of days,” she says. “This problem had a significant impact on my quality of life.”

Being fit and active was, and is, important to Christin. But with SUI, it was difficult to find activities that didn’t create uncomfortable situations.

“I signed up for a Zumba class with a friend, and was so excited to try it out,” she says. “I couldn’t even get through the class without having to run to the bathroom.”

After speaking with a coworker, she realized there could be a better way to live. She made an appointment with Dr. Kevin Benson, urogynecologist at Sanford Health.

“The most common cause of stress urinary incontinence is child bearing,” says Dr. Benson. “There are a lot of women who suffer in silence, but shouldn’t. There is a relatively simple solution to this common problem.”

Sanford offers the mid-urethral sling procedure to treat SUI. After a consultation, Christin was deemed a good candidate for the procedure, which she had in June.

The outpatient procedure is performed under local anesthetic and typically takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Dr. Benson stressed this procedure is an approved standard of care and is different from the controversial vaginal mesh therapy.

“The beauty of this procedure is that it’s 90 percent effective, quick, and nearly pain free,” says Dr. Benson. “The effects of the procedure are seen immediately and patients can return to normal activities the same day. Our patients come in leaky and leave dry.”

With little pain and little inconvenience, Christin’s quality of life has improved greatly.

“My surgery was at 11, and I was home by 1:30 that afternoon,” she says. “I was doing housework that night and went back to work the next day, with no complications.”

The only restriction is excessive exercise or heavy lifting for the first few weeks after the procedure.

Christin now enjoys her Zumba class. She also enjoys being active with her sons again. There is no worry or stress when she sneezes or coughs.

“I encourage anyone who is having problems like mine to schedule a consultation at Sanford,” Christin says. “The entire team gave me a tremendous amount of respect during a vulnerable time for me. I appreciate how they cared for me and gave me back what I’d been missing for so many years.”

For more information or to schedule a consultation at Sanford Women’s Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery Clinic, call (605) 328-8750.

Posted Date: November 2013