Do you feel as though you know where every clean restroom is along the route of everywhere you travel? Do you have difficulty even making it to the restroom in time? Know that you are not alone.
More than 17 million Americans suffer from symptoms of an overactive bladder – sudden urges to go to the bathroom (urgency), frequent trips to the bathroom (frequency), having to urinate 2 or more times during the night (nocturia) and urine leakage without warning or before you’re able to get to a bathroom (incontinence).
Women are speaking up more about this issue with their doctors, but not enough. Those who do are often given a pill to take daily, they may or may not even try it, and never bring it up again assuming that they will just have to live with the symptoms for the rest of their life.
Another unfortunate scenario is that your doctor may not even be aware of all the triggers that can worsen these symptoms for someone or all the treatment options that are available. While behavior modification with diet, weight loss, avoiding things that can worsen the symptoms, such as caffeine and alcohol, and decreasing fluid intake do sometimes ease the symptoms, for many they do not.
There are a bunch of medications that are FDA approved for the treatment of these symptoms as well, however these do not work for everyone. In addition, they are often very costly, they may cause undesirable side effects and/or they may interact with other medications that you are on.
Many people do not know that other options exist. And unfortunately, many general physicians are unaware of these options as well.
Nerve modulation with an implantable device that changes how the bladder behaves has been very successful for many patients who have failed other therapies. This procedure, called Sacral Nerve Interstim, has been FDA approved to be used for these symptoms for more than 15 years. More than 100,000 implants have been performed worldwide with significant success rates.
The implant sends electrical impulses to the nerves in the low back that control the bladder and pelvic muscles, thus disrupting the messages from the brain that cause excess contractions of the bladder that leads to urgency, frequency and some forms of incontinence. This procedure can be performed in an outpatient setting after having a successful 3-7 day trial of a temporary implant that can be placed in the office. Candidates for this procedure are those who have failed 2 or more conservative treatments with medication and/or behavior modification.
If your bladder is still controlling your life despite treatments, Interstim is definitely an option to consider. It can give you your life back when medication can’t. If you have these issues and have been unsuccessful with other treatments speak with your general physician, gynecologist or urologist about different options that may be right for you.