Leaky Bladder and Leaky Faucets
by Peahen Gandhi, MD, FACOG, FPMRS
“It was so annoying. I could not sleep. Drip, drip, drip sang the faucet all night long. I created excuses for myself so I wouldn’t have to fix it. My excuses ranged from, ‘I don’t have time,’ ‘I don’t have the money to spend on a plumber,’ or the classic, ‘it really isn’t that bad’. But every morning when I looked in the mirror, I realized I was suffering. I was sleep deprived and cranky. Reluctantly, I went to the local home improvement store to get some advice.”
‘It’s probably the washer,’ said the man behind the counter, while his thumbs snapped his suspenders. ‘Over time the washer is forced against the valve seat which causes it to wear out. As a result, you’ll notice dripping around the spout.’ I thanked him kindly and proceeded to the cash register to make my purchase. It made sense. It took just an hour to replace and voila! No more annoying drips.
You know what I realized from this experience? We women put up with a lot!
I see so many women come to my office with debilitating urinary leakage. They cannot enjoy Zumba for fear of an accident. Some cross their legs and hope for the best every time cold season comes around for fear that a sneeze will cause leakage. Others are embarrassed by leakage during intercourse.
So women endure the drip, drip, drip. They try to convince themselves that “they don’t have time to go to the doctor,” or they worry that “insurance won’t pay to fix it anyway” and of course, they tell themselves “it really isn’t that bad.”
Sound familiar? Of course it does. More than a third of women suffer from bladder control problems. The most common risk factor is childbirth. The muscles around the bladder and pelvis become weakened, which makes it harder for you to control when your urine starts flowing. Hormonal changes, such as diminished estrogen at the level of the urethra, also affect your ability to withstand increased pressure on your bladder such as exercise or even an unexpected sneeze.
Women are surprised when I counsel them on the treatment options available, most of which are lifestyle changes. However, surgical advances in the past ten years have given skilled surgeons the tools in order to fix urine leakage with simple thirty minute outpatient procedures that leave no visible scars. It is a readily treatable condition with minimal side effects or long-term risks.
Empowering women with clinical knowledge is rewarding. That is my suspender-snapping moment.
If you have issues with urinary incontinence, help is available. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 770.720.7733 or request an appointment online.
Dr. Peahen Gandhi authored this article and is a board-certified OB/GYN and urogynecologist with Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists in Canton and Woodstock. Urogynecology is a subspecialty within obstetrics and gynecology that focuses on disorders of the female pelvic floor such as pelvic organ prolapse (bulging out of the uterus and/or vagina), urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence and constipation.