We round up the latest non-surgical solutions
Figures show that a third of women suffer from pelvic floor disorders but, according to new research, this could just be the tip of the iceberg. A study of 2,300 women in the UK suggests these statistics are conservative and that more than half suffer from stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and accidental bladder leakage. If you’re one of them, you’re certainly not alone.
According to the officials behind vSculpt, a new non-surgical treatment for SUI, women are also inclined to sit on their problems – believing it to be an inevitable consequence of childbirth or the menopause, thinking it’s too embarrassing or can only be tackled surgically.
But obstetric consultant and gynaecologist Ellis Downes says there are lots of options available for women looking to take control of their own health and that non-surgical at-home solutions could be the way forward.
“Instead of opting for surgical procedures, I’m seeing more and more women looking for non-surgical and natural treatments,” he says.
“I believe this is driven by the introduction of a number of new non-surgical treatments for SUI – vSculpt being one of them.
“I’m noticing the positive emotional impact this type of ‘at home’ treatment is having on women suffering with SUI. Interestingly, the emotional relief brought by realising their problem can be treated discretely and non-surgically is as significant as the physical improvements they’re noticing.”
These sentiments are echoed by some of the global campaigners lobbying against the use of vaginal or tape for conditions such as prolapse and SUI. In fact, the past 12 months has seen an unprecedented level of campaigning and debate to highlight the damaging effects on some women following such treatment.
The team behind Bulkamid, another non-surgical alternative, says the latest research suggests that, following the mesh media campaign, women are now much more likely to put up with SUI than explore all the treatment options.
It says nearly half (48%) of those surveyed admitted that the recent concerns with mesh covered in the media would deter them from seeking out advice from a health professional about treatment options for SUI.
Yet, according to Bulkamid, the condition can have a significant impact on daily life – affecting activities, relationships and emotional wellbeing. It can also occur at any stage of life, with risk factors including pelvic disorders from childbirth, obesity and ageing.
And despite its prevalence, research shows women still find discussing SUI taboo. Four in 10 (39%) of women admitted they avoid certain activities, such as bouncing on a trampoline with their children; wearing certain clothes, or attending an exercise class for fear of accidental bladder leakage, rising to 52% of women aged 35-44.
More than a fifth (22%) said the final “tipping point” for getting help was experiencing leakage while running for a bus, while 16% said it was the moment their partner pointed out a wet patch.
Leading experts are now calling for women to see past the recent headlines and, rather than suffering in silence, speak to a healthcare professional.
“I encourage women to take those first steps towards discussing their condition with a GP,” says Dr Helen Johnson, a consultant urogynaecologist for the NHS Trust.
“There is really nothing to be frightened of or embarrassed about and I feel some of the less invasive, non-surgical treatments available should now be at the forefront of any discussions.”
Bulkamid is water-based gel which helps the bladder neck to close to help prevent bladder leaks. It’s reported to have an 80% success rate and has treated more than 50,000 women.
INTIMINA’s KegelSmart pelvic biofeedback product has been proven to deliver measurable results in just 12 weeks – making it the world’s only kegel trainer (or pelvic floor exercise trainer) with clinical trial accreditation.
INNOVO offers ‘innovotherapy’ designed to strengthen your pelvic floor. Using a hand-held controller attached to a two-part garment, it sends targeted impulses via conductive pads connected to your upper thigh and buttocks to activate the pelvic floor muscles.
vSculpt’s unique combination of treatment modalities is said to help stimulate collagen regeneration and vascularisation in the vaginal tissues and muscles. Results include vaginal tightening and improved bladder function.
Neen Aquaflex is an at-home pelvic floor trainer consisting of different-sized vaginal cones and weights to aid Kegel exercises and help rebuild pelvic floor strength in around 12 weeks.