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Medical advances offer help for the incontinent

Star-News (Wilmington, NC)


Oct. 02--Dr. Timothy Chase has been practicing at Glen Meade Center for Women's Health for nearly 20 years, and this September was a special month that recognized his two decades.

The center announced that Chase had become the only physician in Southeastern North Carolina to earn board certification in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS), a specialty also known as urogynecology. FPMRS focuses on benign female pelvic disorders such as incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and voiding dysfunctions.

Chase answered questions about incontinence, but prefaced them by knocking down a misconception, and offering positive news.

"The biggest message I want to get out there is that incontinence is not a normal part of aging," says Chase. "Patients can get help even if they have had a previous treatment. With new advances in urogynecology, help is available."

Q. What is the Glen Meade Incontinence Center?

A. Glen Meade Incontinence Center is a Division of Glen Meade Center for Women's Health. We developed this center in 2003 so that women with this problem would know where to go to get help.

Q. How did you get started with urinary incontinence?

A. I have been working with women with urinary incontinence for over 20 years, starting in residency. It is very rewarding to have a woman come in with this problem, treat her and for her to be totally dry.

Q. Why is urinary incontinence such a problem for women?

A. Because it can be such an emotional and embarrassing problem.

Q. When should a woman be concerned about incontinence?

A. (Incontinence) is highly variable. It could be several times a day or once every month or so. Whenever it is a recurring problem and causes difficulty with their everyday living and lifestyle, it is a medical problem.

It could be as often as several times a day to once every couple of months.

Q. Who does this affect? Is this just a 'getting old' situation?

A. No, this can affect women of all ages. You may be surprised to know that between the ages of 18 and 44 approximately 24 percent of women experience incontinence. Women can have this problem doing certain activities, especially exercise. It is not at all uncommon for me to see young mothers who leak when playing with their children, such as jumping on a trampoline.

Q. Are there different types of incontinence?

A. There are two main types: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is the loss of urine during activity such as coughing, laughing and exercise. Urge incontinence is the loss of urine associated with a strong urge to urinate such as, "I can't get to the bathroom in time."

Q. What kinds of treatments are available for incontinence?

A. It all depends on the type of incontinence.

For stress incontinence the treatments are primarily pelvic exercises and surgery. The surgery is usually a 20-minute procedure that is outpatient -- the patient goes home without a catheter, and they usually have immediate results.

For urge incontinence the treatment is primarily behavioral and medications. For those with urge incontinence that don't respond to medication, or they have too many side effects, I offer neuromodulation therapy. This is like a "pacemaker" for the bladder.

Q. What about lifestyle changes or exercises?

A. The main things a patient can do to prevent and help treat incontinence is not to smoke, lose weight and perform pelvic floor (kegal) exercises.

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Copyright Star-News (Wilmington, NC) 2013

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