For the Ladies — Do You Pee When You _____?

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Hi there.

Yup two posts in one day.

Guys, you get a pass today unless you feel like reading about how women regardless of their child-bearing experience (but it affects it for sure) can leak some pee when they sneeze, cough, run, jump, dance, laugh … you know: exist.

I am coming out right now: I had a surgery back in 2007. It was called a “transurethral sling implant” because I leaked when I did any of the above living behaviors.

I did a lot of research. I did a lot of investigating. If you know me, you know how absolutely tenacious I can be when it comes to research. So, when it comes to research for an elective procedure (which conversely did affect the quality of my life) I’m slightly insane. Not that I’ve had any other elective procedures. Other than a brain transplant. It failed; they had to give mine back.

So the “brand” of device I had was called the “TVT-O” and here’s why I needed it: despite years of stoplight kegels, pelvic floor exercises, weight loss (to reduce the pressure on the bladder and urethra) I still leaked.

I wanted to stay in shape, but that meant I had to make arrangements. No matter how many arrangements I made: it didn’t work. I’m 5’5″, 135#; pretty average. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t dance. I couldn’t laugh without a >splee!< down there.

IT SUCKED.

The final straw came at a major family event that I attended. I wanted to shake it up on the dance floor. Cut a rug. Get my groove on. I am active! But I ended up dancing like a 92-year-old post-op fitness instructor. My feet shuffled, they never left the ground. My youngest son wanted to do the preschooler dance, the constant “jump and hop” with me: nothing doing. My legs were fine, as were my lungs, heart and attitude but my urethra? That freaking TINY little tube the length of a small paperclip was my master.

I was out. It was awful. I couldn’t dance at this huge, glorious event.

It’s technically called, “Stress Urinary Incontinence” (SUI). I called it freaking embarrassing and utterly frustrating.

I put up with this condition for seven eight NINE  years.

I was determined then to investigate.  After finding a doctor thanks to a good friend, and then interviewing her good friend who had the procedure I was looking into, I called the doctor (not all doctors are certified to perform this procedure, by the way).

why is it that when i searched for urethra i got mostly male anatomy? are we SO closed up about this highly common issue with women? (http://www.thirdage.com/files/cond/female-urethra.jpg)

why is it that when i searched for urethra i got mostly male anatomy? are we SO closed up about this highly common issue with women? (http://www.thirdage.com/files/cond/female-urethra.jpg)

We had to go through a couple phsyicals, tests, and some sort of exam she gave me to determine my candidacy for the surgery. Apparently I pissed (ahahahahahhaaaa!) with flying colors.

It was my anatomy. My urethra was positioned in such a way that it managed to hold on to some urine despite my efforts to fully empty my bladder.

After literally looking at me without even physically assessing, she said, “Yup. You’re a candidate. Your bladder is empty. But due to age, weight changes from carrying babies, gravity and the tilt of your uterus, you have a ‘dip’ or ‘pocket’ in your urethra which holds urine that didn’t void. So when you run, laugh, jump: it leaks for you. Your pelvic floor is strong, there’s no doubt of that because it’s what’s putting the pressure on your urethra which causes the leaks, but what you need now is a sling to hold it up or reduce the dip… Does that make sense?”

She could’ve been saying “doggie go boo-boo in the banana tub running heartaches with lollipops and salad casserole carpools” and I wouldn’t have cared. But when she said ‘You’re a candidate.’ I stopped listening, even though I didn’t stop hearing.

Three weeks later, I went in. The procedure was outpatient in her office and it took all of 20 minutes. Local anesthetic here, there, “Blabitty blah, how’re the kids? Do you have any plans for the weekend? No, I haven’t seen that movie, I hear it’s great. I can’t believe they made a third ‘Shrek…’ I know right? Yes, it’s incredible that Brad and Angelina are having twins… Try not to laugh … annnnnd we werrrrrrrre done. Scoot up, get dressed, come see me in my office and we’ll talk about after care and recovery.”

Super.

Six weeks of no heavy weights. I couldn’t run. But I was allowed to laugh.

The benefits were INSTANT. It took a little while for me to trust it, to get used to not having to suppress my laughter or cross my legs when I’d sneeze or cough or shout, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly.

I’m sharing this because I hear about this problem for many of our sisters. I learned about the procedure when I started to open up, talk about it candidly and ask for help. Here’s where I am: I’m here to help you. You don’t have to ask me any questions, you can chat me up privately or simply share the info with someone you love who’s talked about it.

I’m six years post-op today, as a matter of fact, and I’ve never regretted getting this done. There are contraindications (if you’re planning to have a baby is the first and yo-yo weight fluctuations is another) you should consider.

Let’s talk.

Thank you.

ps – here are other posts I’ve written For The Ladies

Living and Thriving with PMDD

Yes Ma’ammogram

16 responses »

  1. Hey we’re the same size too! Who’da thought? Yeah I have the pee thingy but I only leak if I don’t make sure I empty regularly, so if I know we’re gonna do running jumping etc I go, of course the sneeze and cough thing still catch me but I’ll investigate. Perhaps it might work for me. Then we’d totally be twinsies…

  2. More great info……hopefully I will never need this but if I, or any other local friends, do I will be calling you for the Dr’s info! Glad to hear that it worked for ya!!!

  3. I’m a generation older than you and I didn’t do research, Molly. During my mid to late 40s I had a Burch Procedure. Your procedure sounds much better. I had to spend 6 days in the hospital. We were living in the NL at the time, so went to an American hospital in Germany, 6 hrs away. Because my anterior vaginal had collapsed this is what the surgeon wanted to perform. Fine. 9 Months later my posterior vaginal wall collapsed and had to go back for more surgery. Not fun. Lesson learned, repair both instead of one at a time.

    I do have a wonderful urigynecologist that checks me yearly. I like him because he doesn’t want to do surgery. Three other gynecologists wanted me to have another posterior correction. What they didn’t do was have me go to a physical therapist – yes, there are physical therapists in this line – like my urigynecologist prescribed for me. She was great. Found out my problem was not relaxing after doing kegels.

    All that said, I still had problems decades ago when I was a cheerleader – well, you can imagine the jumps! Thank you, Molly, for bringing this out in the open.

    • SUI is a pretty common condition, Especially as we age. I think what most people don’t understand is that it affects men, too, but women are the focus of the undergarment and SNL spoof ads.

      Relaxing after kegels?! Oh, do tell!

    • You’re very welcome. I’m so thrilled about the looks I might get at the grocery store one day. It’s amazing to me that women don’t talk about this. I think we’re so used to being regarded as dramatic, hysterics or over zealous about things like this, but the fact is that if you have me, a (relatively) normal, active, healthy mother being dragged down emotionally and spiritually because of a situation like this, I don’t understand the lack of communication and support. I know I can’t be the only one. We all begin life wetting our pants. 🙂 that sounded funny…

    • Hi Shakti, thanks for your comment. Age is correlated as a factor with SUI because everything breaks down in its firmness and changes in elasticity is a natural part of that: cheeks, jaw lines, skin, organs, urethra. It’s a part of the process, I’m afraid. That’s why we see those adult undergarments out in the open so much now. The so-called “Baby Boomer” population is the most heavily populated in the US. Its lobby is the most influential, so that’s why we see Viagra and Levitra and Cadillac ads everywhere. This generation is getting old, and rightfully or deludedly so, still wants to have fun.

      There’s not one single organ in out body that is immune. And if you think about what they all do all the time every day with or without compromise, it makes sense.

  4. Thank you for sharing this info. I really thought it was just something you had to deal with after a couple kids or past 35. I LOVE jumping on trampolines with my kids. To be able to do that without peeing all over myself would be awesome!

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