No one wants to talk about it. But it can get so bad you are afraid to go out of the house. And if you do, you need to chart where the bathrooms are along your route. And you may, even as a younger adult, wear diapers as a safety net. I am talking about incontinence. For some people it could be rectal, but for most it is urinary and falls into two categories “stress” and “urge.” In all cases there has been real progress in bringing relief – and freedom.
Recently I interviewed Jameelah Najmah, a former teacher from Chicago. Over a few years her urinary incontinence got worse and worse – so bad she was afraid to even go to the grocery store. And when she did she was sure to use their bathroom and buy diapers. You can imagine how frustrated and depressed she was.
For other women it may be less dramatic but still annoying. It could be leakage when you laugh, cough or sneeze, or even when you jog or do aerobics. In other cases you can continually feel like you “gotta go.” It could be triggered in many ways. Pregnancy is just one.
It makes sense to have a consultation with a urologist who specializes in female urology and has a lot of experience in incontinence. Beware, this is not a specialty area for every urologist. So if your condition is serious and you need all the options on the table, you should see a true female incontinence specialist. Don’t settle for less, because the right doctor, with the right knowledge can give you your life back.
Najmah was a patient of Dr. Stephanie Kielb, such a specialist from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The first step is to have the right diagnostic tests to see how bad your incontinence is and what type it is. Then treatments can range from Kegel exercises and, if you will, “physical therapy” for the muscles that control urine flow, to biofeedback, implants, prescription medicines, and various types of pelvic surgery. Najmah had surgery when pills did not do the job and now she leads a full life.
If you or a friend is affected by incontinence you don’t have to suffer nor feel alone. It affects millions. Seek treatment. To get you started with information, listen to Jameelah Najmah’s story and how she was helped by an expert, Dr. Kielb, through this program, Incontinence: A Common and Distressing Problem, at http://goo.gl/Cdkmk
About the author: Andrew Schorr is a medical journalist, cancer survivor and founder of Patient Power, a one-of-a-kind company dedicated to bringing in-depth information to patients with cancer and chronic illness. Audio and video programs, as well as transcripts, help patients make informed decisions to support their health in partnership with their medical team.
Patient Power is at www.PatientPower.info and on Facebook. Schorr is also the author of “The Web Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis."
Edited by Jody Smith