Raise your hand if you get nervous when you sneeze, cough or jump on a trampoline.
One of the joys of being a mum is the possibility of having to deal with light bladder leakage or LBL. It affects 1 in 3 women and around 50% of Australian women aged 45-59 years of age.
According to the Continence Association of Australia, its common for women with urinary incontinence to suffer anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, a loss of desire for intimacy. and a sense of grief at an inability to control this bodily function.
So to help other mums out there, here is our interview with Dr Herbert Hooi, a Medical Practitioner with Cosmetic MD to talk about LBL and the painless, non-invasive way to prevent it.
What exactly is LBL?
Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) occurs when there is a small amount of urine leaking from the bladder. LBL affects 1 in 3 women and can be associated with a variety of conditions, including pregnancy, menopause, or health issues such as diabetes, obesity, stroke, and some heart conditions.
What causes it?
There are several causes of light bladder leakage. The most common cause is stress urinary incontinence (SUI). The other causes include urge incontinence, mixed incontinence and other rarer conditions. SUI occurs when activities which suddenly increase the pressure inside the abdomen such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, running or jumping overcomes the ability of the bladder and its supporting tissues to keep urine inside the bladder. The supporting structures of the bladder become weak through stretching during childbirth, ageing or with other conditions. The result is urine leaking out of the urethra which is the tube through which you pass urine. Although SUI is quite common with around 65% of women in GP waiting rooms reporting some type of urinary incontinence, only a small number of women seek out ways to alleviate the problem.
Can LBL be avoided?
Unfortunately, there is no active intervention which prevents SUI. For many women, SUI is related to the mechanical stretching of the pelvic tissues during pregnancy and childbirth. After menopause, the loss of hormonal support of the pelvic organs and general ageing can also lead to SUI.
What are the early signs of LBL women should be looking for?
The main symptom of SUI is a leakage of urine at times of physical movement or activity. So if women are experiencing urine leakage when they laugh, cough, lift things such as children during play, or exercise, then this could be a sign of stress incontinence. The leakage may be as little as a drop or two, or may be a “squirt,” or even a stream of urine.
What can women do to help with issues of LBL?
In general, the patient’s GP is the first port of call. The GP would determine whether the problem is SUI or another cause of light bladder leakage. They may initiate some simple tests to exclude reversible causes such as urine infection, check for diabetes and other medical conditions. Depending on the findings at the consultation, other tests and/or referral to a specialist may be required. There are many ways of managing daily activities with SUI. A healthy diet, stopping smoking and ensuring you are within a healthy weight range are ways to help improve bladder control. The use of incontinence pads and regular emptying of the bladder with planned toilet breaks before physical activity are also helpful. Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowels. Until recently, the next step for many women was a surgical procedure. This changed when laser treatments for SUI were developed around 6 years ago.
What is IncontiLase?
IncontiLase is a non-surgical laser treatment for SUI. It is a painless, non-invasive walk-in/walk-out procedure requiring no incisions, anaesthesia, or downtime. Clinical studies have shown IncontiLase to be safe and effective for the treatment of mild and moderate SUI. In the IncontiLase treatment, the laser gently heats the vaginal tissue. This stimulates collagen remodelling, the growth of new collagen, in the area of the front vaginal wall where the urethra is located. The result of stimulating collagen is shrinkage and tightening of the vaginal tissue which gives greater support to the bladder and the return of normal urinary function. The IncontiLase procedure takes about 60 minutes which includes both the consultation and the actual treatment.. A course of two treatments is usually recommended – the second treatment occurs 4 to 6 weeks later.
How long is the recovery time with IncontiLase, and is it painful?
The IncontiLase treatment is painless and patients can get back to usual activities within 24 hours.
How much does the treatment cost?
Treatments start from $900.
Where can women go to get it done?
Specialist practitioners in Australia offer the IncontiLase procedure in Australia. Cosmetic MD in Sydney offers this treatment and works closely with patients to ensure that it is the right treatment for them.
Do you need a referral?
No, a referral is not required. At Cosmetic MD, practitioners meet with patients for an initial consultation to ensure that IncontiLase is the right procedure for them and then work with them to determine the best treatment plan.
What sort of a difference should you expect with IncontiLase?
Patients should be able to expect a reduction in urine leakage. The results of the first several clinical trials showed that between one-third to over a half of women became completely dry and the rest noted a reduction in the number and amount of leakage episodes. Satisfaction rates with the procedure were high.
Can you undergo treatment if you plan on trying to conceive in the future?
Having the IncontiLase treatment does not affect subsequent pregnancy or delivery.
Are the results permanent?
The effects of the treatment can last up to a year and sometimes longer. Retreatment is advised on an annual basis.
About Dr Hooi
Dr. Hooi is recognised as an expert in the revolutionary IncontiLaseTM procedure, offering a non-invasive answer to the significant and debilitating problem of incontinence. With degrees in law, medicine and further specialisation in Emergency Medicine, he has a thorough grounding in all facets of acute medicine. Dr Hooi’s training and experience led to his award as a Foundation Fellow of the Australasian College of Aesthetic Medicine in 2009.
This post is in collaboration with Dr Hooi from Cosmetic MD