Urinary incontinence and stress incontinence occur when the pelvic floor or cervix collapses. Stress incontinence causes small amounts of urine to leak when the pelvic floor is put under stress - like when sneezing, coughing or laughing. Surgery is often a necessary step if pelvic floor muscles do not strengthen through specialised exercise regimes.
There are 5 main types of invasive procedures to address stress incontinence:
(1) Anterior vaginal procedure repairs vaginal walls.
(2) Bulking injections thicken the area around the urethra; it often needs repeated procedures.
(3) Retro pubic suspensions lift the pubic region.
(4) Tension-free vaginal tape - this tape is used to support the bladder and urethra.
(5) Vaginal sling procedures use a sling that can be made from a variety of materials to support the urethra.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The procedure may be under general anaesthetic or spinal anaesthetic (numbed below the waist). Each procedure uses a different technique and may or may not require a hospital stay. There is a recuperation period for each procedure. Surgery is not always successful.
It can, in some circumstances, be a total cure for stress incontinence or provide a valuable alternative where other treatments have failed.
Any procedure that involves the use of an anaesthetic carries with it risks. The products used such as slings and tape may disintegrate over time and require replacing. The surgery is not always successful and requires a skilled physician.