Continence FAQs

  1. What are the important factors in choosing an incontinence treatment center?
  2. What makes the video urodynamics lab such a unique tool in diagnosing my problem?
  3. What makes the Pelvic Floor Center at Virginia Mason a Center of Excellence?
  4. How do I know that my incontinence symptoms warrant treatment?
  5. How do I know which provider I should schedule an appointment with?
  6. Are there good alternatives to surgery?
  7. What can I do to control the amount of leakage that occurs?
  8. If I have surgery, what kind of results and recovery period can I expect?
  9. What is a pelvic floor prolapse?
  10. Can you tell me more about the types of slings you use for surgery?

1. What are the important factors in choosing an incontinence treatment center?

First, you should consider the team's experience with treating your condition. If the team has a history of successful outcomes, has done extensive research, conducted clinical trials, and has published their work, then there is good indication that they are leaders in the field and that you will be in good hands. A second consideration is the technology used for diagnosis and treatment. The Continence Center at Virginia Mason offers a state-of-the-art urodynamics lab, and a wide range of the latest surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

2. What makes the video urodynamics lab such a unique tool in diagnosing my problem?

The Pelvic Floor Center's state-of-the-art video urodynamics lab provides us with simultaneous electronic tracings of bladder activity and video imaging of the bladder in motion. Both are important to determine the cause and type of incontinence you may be experiencing. Our specialists all have particular expertise in interpreting this data.

3. What makes the Pelvic Floor Center at Virginia Mason a Center of Excellence?

We are proud of our designation as a Virginia Mason Center of Excellence. This recognition is selectively given to a team of providers who are nationally recognized for patient care and advance medical knowledge by researching and applying state-of-the-art methods and technologies.

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4. How do I know that my incontinence symptoms warrant treatment?

You may start to notice that sharing a good laugh with friends, sneezing, coughing, jumping jacks or jogging during a workout causes leakage. The fact is, any degree of incontinence that bothers you is a reason to discuss this with your primary physician. If you aren't finding the solution to your problem, ask your doctor for a referral to the Pelvic Floor Center at Virginia Mason. The majority of continence care is fully covered by insurance.

We believe that there is appropriate treatment for every patient and that you are a true partner in managing your condition. We dedicate time to discussing all your options, and offer suggestions for returning to an active, unrestricted life.

5.  How do I know which provider I should schedule an appointment with?

Call us at (206) 223-6772. Our highly trained support staff can discuss your particular issue and help you decide the best provider for you to see.

6. Are there good alternatives to surgery?

Yes, there are a number of alternate treatments for men and women, ranging from physical therapy and incontinence aids for stress incontinence to dietary, Botox treatments, habit changes, bladder training, and medications for urge incontinence. We also use neuromodulation, a technique that retrains the bladder nerve response using small amounts of direct electrical stimulation to the nerves themselves. Our team of continence caregivers, including Dr. Stefanovic's particular expertise in non-surgical treatments, considers the least-invasive approaches to treating incontinence first. 

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7. What can I do to control the amount of leakage that occurs?

Sometimes reducing your fluid intake, avoiding nicotine, caffeine, carbonated beverages, or regularly practicing pelvic floor exercises will help reduce or eliminate leakage. If they do not help, you should consider seeking medical attention. 

8. If I have surgery, what kind of results and recovery period can I expect?

Success rates and recovery periods depend on your specific continence problem, but many of our procedures have success rates as high as 80 to 90 percent over the long term. Recovery can range from overnight for most procedures to six weeks for full recovery from a bladder augmentation surgery.

9. What is a pelvic floor prolapse?

Pelvic floor prolapse is a weakening of the pelvic floor, allowing the bladder or the vagina to bulge downward, often causing incontinence. Pelvic prolapse can be the result of a normal delivery, or hormonal changes during menopause. More than 90,000 hysterectomies are performed each year for pelvic prolapse, yet the hysterectomy may not resolve the incontinence. The Pelvic Floor Center uses innovative techniques and materials for pelvic floor reconstruction, resulting in a 90 to 95 percent success rate.

10.  Can you tell me more about the types of slings you use for surgery?

We use a number of different innovative types of sling materials and surgical treatments at the Pelvic Floor Center, including a variety of permanent mesh products, cadaveric tissue or your own fibrous tissue called fascia.
 
We have experience in choosing the best material for you, as well as the correct surgical approach to place the material for optimal results. The center has performed and published the results of several clinical trials using these techniques and materials at Virginia Mason. For more information about slings, contact the Pelvic Floor Center at (206) 223-6772.

We will thoroughly evaluate your particular symptoms, the results of testing in our incontinence lab, and your personal preferences to help make the best choice for you.

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