Incontinence Is Nothing to Sneeze At
Today, we’re inundated with TV ads promoting the use of pads and adult diapers. We hear about mesh surgery going awry and about meds being prescribed. Urinary tract, bladder control and bowel problems are a major issue for men and women alike and it’s one of the most embarrassing aspects of aging, tearing of the pelvic muscles during childbirth, anal or rectal cancer. Many people who suffer with urinary incontinence can also have leaky bowel, and suffer in silence and embarrassment, sometimes confined to their homes.
Sadly, most people wait years to let their doctor know they are having a problem. For instance, up to 50% of men after age 50 with an enlarged prostate gland, and those who have had surgery to treat prostate cancer may also experience incontinence. There are several types of incontinence including urge, stress and mixed incontinence which can cause accidents or unintended leaks when coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping or lifting, and can occur any time or at any place.
Fortunately, there’s a new, non-surgical solution to treat incontinence and eliminate the need for pads and diapers altogether. It’s called Attain and is the first over-the-counter non-implantable muscle stimulator designed to help treat incontinence by exercising the pelvic floor muscles. It is a small, painless, easy-to-use medical device for people to self-treat in the privacy of their own homes. Many respond well to pelvic-floor electrical stimulation and biofeedback as a first-line treatment, before considering surgery or medication.
We go to the gym, take cycling and Pilates classes to exercise our calves and abs but shouldn’t forget to strengthen our pelvic floor muscles too. Attain provides a guided exercise program to solve incontinence at the source. Muscle stimulation at specific frequencies in an alternating manner increases pelvic floor muscle strength, calming the detrusor muscle and eliciting a full, deep muscle contraction, providing neuromuscular re-training. The lighted biofeedback graph and visual cues guide the user through a series of variable timed, contractions along with a relaxation phase, much like a physical therapy session. A customizable probe inflates to be “comfortably snug,” placing the stimulation in full contact with the vaginal or rectal wall, ensuring a deep muscle contraction with a comfortable, effective stimulation delivery. A probe provides active resistance for a full muscle contraction, re-positioning musculature into a resting position between contractions.
Dr. Arnold Kegel developed exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles in 1948 and still, physicians to this day remind their patients, “Do your Kegels!” Kegel exercises have been the first line treatment, but most people experience frustration because they unknowingly don’t perform the Kegels effectively or consistently, which leads to no improvement in symptoms. Attain electrical stimulation with biofeedback therapy is an effective tool to do your Kegels for you and improve bladder and bowel control.
Talk with your doctor, urogynecologist or medical team about your incontinence and ask them about Attain before agreeing to surgery, meds or relying on those embarrassing pads or diapers.