Girl Taking Medication

Could You Be Suffering With Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory bladder condition in which there is persisting chronic pelvic pain, urinary frequency and urgency, bladder pain or pressure, and it can also resemble the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, but there will be no infection present. The pain can range from being mild to severe.

Worldwide Interstitial Cystitis affects up to 100 million people and it can affect both men and women, regardless of age. IC is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and chronic pelvic pain (CPP)

Women with interstitial cystitis may experience many of the same symptoms as those with endometriosis. Women can have both Interstitial Cystitis and endometriosis at the same time. Some people with IC may also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia and other pain syndromes

People with IC have chronic symptoms in the urinary tract that last more than 6 weeks in duration. Infection has not been identified as a cause of IC. Physical and emotional stress can worsen the symptoms of IC.

Interstitial Cystitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Chronic pelvic pain that lasts 6 months or more
  • Symptoms affected by the menstrual cycle
  • Pain, pressure, discomfort or unpleasant sensation that may worsen as the bladder fills
  • Urinating often alleviates the pain and may give a temporary sense of relief;
  • Suprapubic pain or discomfort
  • Pelvic pain (lower abdominal pain), sometimes extending to the lower part of the back, the groin and thighs
  • In women there may be pain in the vagina and vulva
  • In men, pain in the penis, testicles, scrotum and perineum
  • Both men and women may have pain in the urethra and rectum
  • Pain with sexual intercourse in both men and women (dyspareunia)
  • Pain on ejaculation in men
  • Pain may worsen with specific foods or drinks
  • A frequent need to urinate (frequency), including at night (night-time frequency or nocturia)
  • An often urgent or compelling need to urinate (urgency)

The pain may be experienced as discomfort or tenderness or irritation or burning sensation in the bladder, in the form of spasms in or around the bladder, or stabbing or burning vaginal pain or simply a feeling of pressure on or in the bladder or a feeling of fullness even when there is only a little urine in the bladder.

In many people, the pain is relieved temporarily by urination, while other people may also feel strong pain following urination.

The pain or discomfort may be constant or intermittent. It may also be felt throughout the pelvic floor, including the lower bowel system and rectum. In some patients the pain may be very severe and debilitating.

Other people, particularly in the early stages, may have milder frequency with/without urgency and without a true sensation of pain. What they may experience, however, is a feeling of heaviness, fullness, discomfort or pressure.

Diagnosis

During the evaluation of potential IC, several tests may be completed to make a diagnosis. These tests may include taking a full medical history, completing a bladder diary, pelvic examination, including a neurological exam and urinalysis to rule out or diagnose an infection

Other diagnostic tests that can be carried out include:

Cystoscopy: This is performed inserting a tube, with a camera attached, into the bladder to evaluate the lining and to look for inflammation and signs of disease. A specialist may also evaluate the bladder capacity with a cystoscopy.

Urodynamics: The bladder is filled to test its capacity by measuring the pressure during filling and voiding. These tests evaluate the function of the bladder, urethra, and sphincter muscles.

Biopsy: During a cystoscopy, a biopsy may or may not be taken to rules out cancer or other inflammatory bladder conditions that can cause pain similar to IC.

Potassium sensitivity test: This is a test in which potassium and water are instilled into the bladder. In healthy bladders, pain is not felt with either solution. In cases of IC, however, pain is typically experienced when the potassium is instilled.

Diet

People with IC may be sensitive to certain foods and beverages. There is a range of items a person may need to excluded from their diet after receiving an IC diagnosis. This will be different for each individual but there are certain foods and drinks that an individual with IC should be aware of potentially needing to avoid. There are food and drinks such as:

  • tea and coffee
  • Soft drinks and soda (including diet drinks)
  • alcohol
  • citrus, citrus drinks and cranberry
  • artificial sweeteners
  • spicy food

Some people with IC may need to a food elimination diet over several weeks to see which specific foods and drinks may be exacerbating their symptoms. There are many foods that do not have an irritating effect on the bladder and contain vital nutrients to help fight disease. This is why elimination diets and specific dietary requirements need to be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

People with IC should also give up smoking if they are a smoker, as the chemicals can affect this condition too.

Treatment

The treatment of interstitial cystitis is complex and needs a multimodality approach to treat it effectively. It may require treatments such as:

  • Urodynamic Therapies
  • Physiotherapy with a specialised pelvic floor physiotherapist
  • Pelvic Floor Therapy (Kegels, Yoni eggs, Ba Wen Balls, internal TENS)
  • Surgery, including laser surgery
  • Neuromodulators, such as electrical nerve stimulators
  • Injections, such as Nerves blocks, Antispasmodics and Botox therapy
  • Pain medications- including narcotics, NSAIDS, Anti-inflammatories,
  • Hormone therapy, both oral and intravaginal
  • Antidepressants
  • Acupuncture
  • Pilates and Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Herbal Medicines, including Chinese Herbal Medicines
  • Amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants
  • Sex Therapy and counselling
  • Mindfulness
  • Adopting health sleeping habits

Your specialist or healthcare provider will discuss the best forms of treatment for your individual case. People with IC should also be referred to a Urodynamic and Pelvic Floor Specialist who specialises in this area.

Complications

Complications from IC can vary between individuals and why there is no one treatment fix all approach to this conditions. IC can affect a person life on so many levels. It can affect their bladder volume, their quality of life, their sex life, their libido and have an affect on sexual intimacy and it can also cause them emotional distress. It is a complex condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life both physically and mentally and why a multimodality treatment approach is needed.

Causes

The exact cause of IC is not known, but there are several theories as to what triggers the condition. Some possible causes include:

  • Damage due to previous surgery
  • Defects in the lining of the urinary bladder that cause irritation
  • Overstretching of the bladder due to trauma
  • Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Genetics
  • Allergy

IC is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many people world wide. It cannot be fully cured and requires close clinical management and care. A multimodality treatment approach needs to be adopted that is suited to the individual. When this is done properly, people with IC can still have a good quality of life.

Recommended treatment usually involves diet and lifestyle changes, stopping smoking, drinking less before bedtime, and scheduling planned toilet breaks to ensure the bladder does not get too full.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Normal 20 07 2016

 

Early Intervention & Early Management Is Vital For Gynaecological Conditions & Menstrual Issues

By now many of you would know my stance on Period Pain not being normal and that the sooner you get the cause treated and managed the better one is going to be in their day to day life.

Unfortunately not everyone knows that Period Pain is not normal and neither are some of the other symptoms women get each month with the onset of their menstrual cycle. Having heavy bleeding, bleeding in between cycles, menstrual cramps, severe pain, irritable bowel like symptoms, dark clotting, ovulation pain, bowel and bladder pain and urgency etc, are all not normal symptoms that a woman should endure with her cycle. Getting these symptoms at any time of your cycle is not normal either.

Early intervention and early management is the key to any disease state in the body and this definitely applies to menstrual issues and gynaecological disorders. Once a disease is expressed into the body, it can be very hard to treat, especially if it is left a long time and then inflammation spreads to other parts of the body, or in close proximity to where the initial disease was first expressed.

One of the reasons that prompted me to do this post was after a young woman, now in her 30’s, had contacted me and thanked me for helping her back when she was in high school. Since then I have known all of her family well and helped with maintaining their health. At the time she was about 14 years old and showed all the signs and symptoms of endometriosis. She was in so much pain each month, when her cycle came, and she was often curled up on the floor with nausea and vomiting from the pain. Everyone, including GP’s etc, had told her this is normal and that she needed to get used to it. They also told her that she is too young to have endometriosis, or any major gynaecological condition.

That is so bad. Please, please know that period pain IS NOT normal and that teenagers are not too young to have endometriosis. To be honest, they are now finding endometriosis in young girls under 10 years old. Many gynaecological issues can start very early on in a woman’s life, especially if there are hereditary factors involved.  Gynaecological and menstrual issues can be passed from generation to generation, so if mum, or your grandmother, or someone in your family tree had menstrual issues, or a gynaecological condition, there is a good chance that you may inherit this as well.

The long and short of it all was that her mother was also getting frustrated at everyone not helping and somehow ended up finding out about me and ended up in my clinic. From there I got her into one of the advanced trained laparoscopic surgeons I work closely with as soon as possible and this is where stage 4 endometriosis was found and excised properly.  Without coming to see me, this poor girl would never have found the cause of her menstrual pain and associated symptoms. I then did all her management of her disease moving forward. The main thing that this young girl and her mother were worried about was how this was affecting her education and daily life, but how this could also affect her future fertility.

The one thing I know is that the sooner there is intervention and treatment, the better the prognosis for a woman’s future fertility is. The one thing I do know is that endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility, but it can make it harder to fall pregnant, if it isn’t managed early enough. The longer you leave a disease in the body untreated, the worse it gets, and then the symptoms get worse and the worse the future outcomes may be.

Lucky for this young lady is that she did have early intervention and management and she has proudly messaged me to tell me that she has had her 3rd child and that she puts it all down to me helping her when she was younger. I have many women message me and tell me much the same thing. It is so important not to leave these things just because you are being told it is normal. What the hell is normal about being in so much pain that you feel like you could die?

All too often I see women having gynaecological conditions, like endometriosis, missed and dismissed and that the longer that the disease has been dismissed, the harder it is going to be to treat. That is a sad fact for many women and some will have to endure repeated surgeries due to being missed and dismissed and have a life of issues, if their issue isn’t managed properly either. Many have not seen the right healthcare professionals, or the right surgeon either.

I have discussed in many of my previous posts.  Please have a read of my previous posts about this subject and the seeing the right team of people. This is why it is so important to have early intervention and also see a proper advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon who specialises in the excision of disease states like endometriosis. Then there needs to be proper management and treatments and lifestyle changes administered to help with suppression of the disease state, helping with inflammation and improving quality of day to day life.

There needs to be a multimodality/team like approach to the management of women with gynaecological issues, as there is no one single fixes all approach, with any medicine. While surgery may be a necessary part of the overall management of disease states such as endometriosis, it isn’t the saviour that many perceive it to be. Surgery does not sure endometriosis and there is no cure for the disease at present time. Once you have it, it is there for good.

Surgery is a necessary but small part of the overall picture that needs to combine many other treatments and modalities to give the best outcome for a woman overall. Once the surgery is done you need to look at managing and suppressing the disease and this is done by lifestyle changes, dietary changes, acupuncture, physio, herbal medicines, hormone therapies, pilates, yoga, pelvic floor and core exercises and many other modalities depending on one’s individual symptoms.

When I treat women with gynaecological conditions, or menstrual issues, I make sure they all get an individualised, person centred, caring approach tailored to how they are presenting rather than a one treatment for all approach that many seem to get. You won’t get the results you need that way because we are all individuals with different needs and different symptoms overall.

Lastly, please remember that period pain and menstrual irregularities are not normal and that the earlier you get onto it and get it treated and managed, the better your future outcomes will be.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal

Stop Telling Women That Period Pain is Normal

After seeing my 10th case of misdiagnosed Endometriosis this week, and goodness knows what else, I can say that I am well and truly over it and about to scream.

I am about to scream if I hear that one more woman, young or old, is told by their healthcare professional, GP, specialist, best friend, mother, facebook buddy etc, that period pain is normal.

Period pain IS NOT normal. It is far from normal and we all need to stop telling our daughters, sisters and women of this world that it is.

I think that anyone that says that need to come and work with me for a day and see the ramifications of women believing that period pain is normal, just because their doctor, healthcare professional, friend, or mother told them that it is.

I think I should post up some rather gruesome pics of women’s reproductive organs stuck together, their insides bleeding, and their pelvis completely obliterated. Yes, obliterated. That was the words that one of the surgeons used today to explain the insides of a woman that had been told that there is nothing wrong, just suck it up, scans havent found anything and just go on the pill and btw, period pain is normal

No it F#%$ing isnt (sorry for swearing but time for diplomacy is over). Women need a voice and need to be heard. Some of these poor women may not be able to have children, or have a healthy sex life, or be able to feel the pleasure of wonderful sex without pain, or ever hold their own baby, because they have been told to suck it up and be told that period pain is normal.

Period pain IS NOT normal and the sooner we get everyone to know this important fact the better. Sure, a little bit of discomfort can be normal. By that I mean just a tiny bit of pressure and basically knowing your period is about to come. But pain…. That is not normal. If you, your friend, your daughter, your sister, your wife, or any other woman you know, has to have days off work, days of school, is laying on the floor in pain, taking pain killers to get through the day, or beginning of their period, then that IS NOT normal.

Please get them to get a referral and see a good specialist who will listen to them and not dismiss them and may miss a gynaecological issue that could affect them for the rest of their lives. No… scans and blood test etc, do not always find the cause of period pain. Have a read on my other posts about this.

If you cant find someone that will listen and help, then book in a consult with me and I will help you get you properly investigated and properly managed moving forward

My motto is “No Stone Left Unturned”and my other motto is “Period pain IS NOT normal”. If you are in pain with your menses, or even any any other time during your cycle, or having pain with sex, or pain with ovulation, pain with bowel movements, pain for no known reason at all, then you need to get something done about it.

I think if I hear one more poor woman get told that Period Pain is normal, I am going to start sending those people gruesome pics of all the insides of women who have been told that period pain is normal, only to find out that it isnt and all the reasons why.

Sorry for the rant, but our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our female partners and women all over this world deserve better.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal

Asking the Right Questions about Period Pain & Gynaecological Issues.

I didn’t know how I was going to start this post, or begin to talk about what I am about to talk about, other than I got some inspiration after a text message, and a phone call later on,  from my eldest daughter yesterday. I will talk about that soon. But let’s talk about some of the phone calls and messages I get from people every day and how some of these messages gives me a heads up into what may be going on for these people and then getting them in for a proper consult and the right help.

Every day I get phone calls, emails, Facebook messages etc, from women (young and older) who are experiencing period pain, menstrual issues, and other related symptoms and nearly all of them have the same story. I have been to the GP and I have had blood tests and scans and they say that there is nothing wrong. It happens so often and it is like there is a script written for these poor women who just want to get out of pain and get some sort of normal life back. I get so annoyed when I hear this repetitious line. Not at the people telling me, but knowing that these poor women really haven’t been investigated properly at all and probably won’t be unless they come and see me.

Yesterday I got a text that I really wasn’t expecting, as it was from my eldest daughter.

It read “Hey Dad, is endometriosis hereditary?”

To which I replied “Yes it can be, why?”

I anxiously awaited the next reply and thankfully she was asking on behalf of a friend. But this poor friend had been experiencing really bad period pain and had basically had blood tests and scans and been told that everything was normal. Apparently one of the scans showed some fluid in the Pouch of Douglas (POD), which can actually be a sign of endometriosis and inflammation. Worse still, this poor girl’s mother actually has endometriosis and nobody is putting two and two together and asking the question “I wonder if the daughter may have it too?”

Well, there is more than a good chance that she does have it and thank goodness my daughter actually knows the signs and knows that scans and bloods tests cannot diagnose many gynaecological issues, especially endometriosis. Lucky my daughter also knows that you need to see an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon who specialises in the excision of endometriosis and has done years of extra surgical training to specialise in these disease states. The good thing is that she knows that you cannot just see a regular gynaecologist to get this done.

But, not everyone is as fortunate as my daughter to know this and help her friend to come and see me to help her see my surgeon and then I can help her with management of the disease, if found (which is highly likely) after the surgery. The other good thing is that my daughter knows there is no cure for endometriosis and that surgery isn’t going to fix the problem either. She knows it will help, and is needed, but after the surgery, the management post surgery is the most important, for disease states like endometriosis. Unfortunately not many people know this and don’t have the disease managed properly post surgery. Women with endometriosis and some other inflammatory gynaecological issues will need a team approach, or a multimodality approach  post surgery, because even with the best medical intervention, it really isn’t enough and why so many women have the disease and symptoms return, or may still be in pain and have other recurring symptoms. There is never a one treatment, one pill, fix all approach to disease states such and endometriosis. This is where so many go wrong.

One of the main issues for women can be that they really have not seen the right healthcare professions, especially the right surgeon and unfortunately this is many of the women that have had surgical intervention. This one is so important.

Whenever I get messages from women in pain, or I consult with women who have period pain and all the other associated symptoms, there are some standard questions I ask, to know if they have been given the right information, been diagnosed properly, or seen the right surgeon.

  1. I always ask “what tests have you had done?” – I know that if they have only had blood tests and some scans, then these women have not been investigated, or diagnosed properly.
  2. Then I usually ask “Have you just seen your GP, or have you seen a specialist?”– Most of the time many women have not been referred onto a specialist and have only just been seen to by a GP. This is one of the biggest issues women face when it comes to gynaecological conditions. GP’s are just general practitioners. They are not gynaecologists and definitely not advanced trained laparoscopic surgeons. The best thing any woman can do is ask for a referral to a specialist and a good GP should know to do this anyway. This is one of the biggest reasons that women from all over the world take up to a decade to be diagnosed with disease states such as endometriosis. On a daily basis women are missed and dismissed and told there is nothing wrong, go on the pill, or that they have some inflammatory bowel condition, when in fact they have endometriosis, or adenomyosis, or some inflammatory gynaecological issue. Btw, this isn’t to put GP’s down, unfortunately this is what happens to so many women and why it often takes up to a decade for women to be diagnosed with diseases such as endometriosis. This is an unfortunate fact and it needs to change.
  3. Then I ask “Have you had a laparoscopy?”– One of the most common responses is “What is a laparoscopy?” and that way I know they haven’t had one done. A laparoscopy is the gold standard investigation of the pelvis and the only way to properly diagnose disease states and causes of period pain, such as endometriosis.
  4. If the woman has had surgery I then ask “was the surgery done publically, or privately?” – This will tell me a few things. It will let me know if it was just done be a public surgeon, who probably isn’t an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon. The issue is that there really aren’t that many advanced trained laparoscopic surgeons that do public work, and even if you strike the jackpot and do happen to get one, there is a good chance they are only in a teaching role to instruct a trainee surgeon to do the surgery anyway. But mostly women do not get an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon in the public system. It is sad, but true unfortunately. Many times the first surgery in the public sector is purely investigative too and no excision (disease removal) is performed. This means that the woman has to come back for further surgery, or surgeries.
  5. If they the woman has had surgery done previously by a private specialist then I usually ask “Who was the surgeon that did your investigation and surgical procedure?” – Sometimes I can ask if the surgeon was an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon and the patient usually will respond to not knowing, or even know what I was talking about. That usually gives me a clue that it most probably wasn’t, but then I can go and check the specialists qualifications online and see if they are, or most probably aren’t, an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon who has done years of extra specialised surgical training.

All those 5 questions can tell me much about what some of these poor women have had done, or haven’t had done, and then I can formulate an appropriate treatment plan and management for these women moving forward. It is always hard explaining to the ones that have had surgery before that they haven’t seen the right surgeon and that they are going to need further surgery. The hardest thing for me is seeing women on support pages about to have their first surgery and I always worry that they aren’t seeing the right surgeon and if they don’t, there is a good chance that they are still going to be going through the same issues, over and over again, until they find the right person to help them. If only I could see all these women before they did anything, so that they can be given the right information and the facts and be managed properly.

The good thing is that when I do get to see women who chose to see me, I can explain to them the  facts and the right information and then why and how with a proper surgeon, that it can make a huge difference to how they are feeling and their recovery and management post surgery. I can also explain how surgery really is necessary, but is only a small part of their overall treatment and management of their disease moving forward. I can also explain the facts around their disease moving forward too and make sure that women under my care are given the right information, the right investigations and right management going forward.

This is why my initial consultations take about an hour and a half and we go over everything from their health history, medical history, hereditary issues, diet, lifestyle, surgical intervention, medications, natural medicines, blood tests, scans, investigations, sleep, sexual health, libido and everything that a woman needs to know about her particular issues. It is also about listening to a woman’s concerns and complaints and really hearing what she has to say and is experiencing. Then I formulate a treatment plan and management and 20 page report of findings for them for what we are going to be doing to help them moving forward. I also give them a step by step treatment plan of treatments and medicines etc they will need too. That is why my motto is “No Stone Left Unturned”, because there is no stone left unturned and I also make sure they see the right people (surgeons and anyone else that they may need to see). If there are things that I can’t do (surgery etc), I make sure that my patients only see the best people and then I can help manage the rest of their disease state for them.

I wish I could see every woman before that went for any investigation, or surgery, so I can point them in the right direction and help them manage their gynaecological condition properly. This is why I am so passionate about doing my posts on social media, or giving time for charity events to talk about women’s health issues and gynaecological issues such as endometriosis, adenomyosis and PCOS. It is why I do healthcare practitioner education and seminars to help educate them better too, so that they can help their patients better and not miss and dismiss them.

I just hope that I can help those who have not been heard and that have been missed and dismissed. I also hope we can get people to listen to the things I have presented above and also help women get a voice, be heard and get government listening and get more education to younger women too.

Lastly, I cannot say it often enough….. Period Pain “IS NOT” normal and if you, or your daughter, or your sister, or your mother, or cousin, your best friend, or anyone you know has period pain, especially bad period pain and other symptoms, please, please, do not tell them that this is normal. It is not normal and they need to come and see me, or another healthcare professional who specialises in women’s health and gynaecological conditions, so that they can be investigated properly and have their issues managed properly too.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

 

 

 

Incontinence, Bladder issues and Weak Pelvic Floor

Incontinence is often an embarrassing condition that will have more than a third of people suffering in silence because they are too embarrassed to seek treatment. Both men and women can suffer incontinence. Although patients don’t die of incontinence, they often can’t live a fully productive life, they may have to curtail their workload or change jobs. Many factory workers and school teachers are only allowed set times for toilet breaks, so patient with urge incontinence may have to change jobs. Patients who work in the military or the police force may have to resort to desk jobs. Too many women with incontinence stop having sexual intercourse, either because they are afraid they will leak during sex, or else they actually do leak, either at penetration, or at time of orgasm, which can be very disastrous. While men can also suffer incontinence, I am mainly going to focus on the causes of incontinence in women for this post.

Many people don’t seek treatment because they also believe that surgery is their only option. Nothing could be further from the truth and surgery should only be used as a last resort once conservative methods have been used and aren’t working. Even then, the surgical approaches used today are less invasive, are very effective and the recovery is very quick. It is not like it was 10-20 years ago. Keyhole surgery has really made major changes in this area and new surgical techniques are so highly effective.  I know people want to avoid any surgery, but sometimes it is needed and these days the recovery rates are so quick. A few days out of your life for recovery, can actually change your whole life. I just do not understand why anyone would put up with a life with incontinence, prolapse, or weak pelvic floor, when these issues are so easily fixed these days. I know many patients are so amazed at how easily their incontinence issues was fixed and how amazing they feel in getting their life back again. No more leakage when they laugh, cough, or exercise.

Some people never seek treatment believing that incontinence is just a normal part of life. Again, this is not true and all and I encourage anyone with incontinence to come and talk to me, or you pelvic floor specialist, so we can help treat you and can also refer you to the right people for treatment and management if needed. I know my pelvic floor/urodynamic surgeon is amazing and what he can do for women and these issues is amazing too. Then I just help with the management and strengthening moving forward.

Like I said before, surgery isn’t always needed. Many times conservative measures such as pelvic floor exercises, core strengthening, bladder toning, topical estrogen therapy, internal TENS (electrostimulation) and pulse magnetic therapy can all product fantastic long term treatment to this often debilitating condition, without the need for surgery. There are also some special rings and other devices that can be used to prevent leakage and support prolapsed bladder and also vaginal prolapse causing incontinence. Men with incontinence also have options at hand and these can also be explored well before surgery is needed. What people need to be aware of too, is that if you have been doing all the conservative treatments, and they aren’t helping, then it is time to get some surgical intervention. I think people think that pelvic floor exercises with fix all bladder and pelvic floor issues, and this doesn’t work, then there is nothing that can be done to help them. I need for all women (and men) to know that there is always help for bladder and pelvic floor issues and you just need to see a specialist, not just your GP.

On a natural medicine level, acupuncture may assist in the treatment and management of pelvic pain, prolapse and incontinence. Anyone with incontinence should be using acupuncture as part of their overall management. There are also Chinese herbal medicines that may assist with toning the pelvic floor and bladder to help stop incontinence. Yoga and Pilates may also help toning of the pelvic floor and help managing incontinence, pelvic floor and post-surgical management of prolapse too.

Incontinence and bladder issues are defined as needing to pass urine more than 8 times per day, leakage of urine through cough, sneeze, urge, or without cause. It is important to seek help if you notice damp underwear, need to use pads because of leakage or are constantly running to the loo to pass urine.

There are many different types of incontinence with the main ones defined as stress incontinence, urge incontinence and voiding dysfunction/incomplete emptying. There is also mixed incontinence (mix of the 3 main ones) and also a term called overactive bladder syndrome which can be a mixture of all forms of incontinence. There are also inflammatory bladder conditions that cause incontinence such as bacterial cystitis and interstitial cystitis. Physical issues such as previous surgery, childbirth and prolapse can also cause incontinence too.

The first task for the clinician is to find out how severe the incontinence is, based on the frequency of leakage, whether the woman finds it necessary to use incontinence pads, and if so how many pads. Some patients may prefer to change their underwear more frequently, while others may tuck tissue paper inside their underwear, and just throw away the tissues whenever they are damp.

The classic feature of stress incontinence is that the patient leaks with coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, playing sport or lifting heavy objects

The classic feature of urge incontinence is that the patient rushes to the toilet with an urgent desire to pass urine, but as she gets to the loo and is taking down her trousers, the urine comes away from her- sometimes before she has even sat down. Unfortunately these patients cannot predict when these bladder spasms will come upon them, and therefore can’t really tell when they are likely to leak.

Nocturia is defined as being woken up by your bladder needing to go to the toilet- as opposed to being woken up by a crying baby, a snoring husband, or menopausal night sweats. However nocturia is age dependent. Nocturia is defined as waking 1 or more times per night if under 60 years of age

Typically this patient Voiding dysfunction/ Emptying difficulty has to strain to commence voiding (called “hesitancy”). She may also have observed that when she compares herself to other women urinating in the toilets at the movies or in airports, her stream seems poorer than others with the urine dribbling out more slowly. She will often also describe the sensation of incomplete emptying and may need to go back to the toilet within a relatively short time to re-void. Sometimes she will leak as she gets off the toilet, which is how she realises that she is not empty. This is called post-micturition dribble incontinence.

In males these symptoms most commonly occur when the prostate gland is enlarged- causing a relative urethral obstruction and making it more difficult for the urine to get out. These men have chronic high residual urine, so they end up going to the toilet very frequently in a vain attempt to empty out. They often dribble urine onto their clothes. When such men have prostatic surgery they usually find that their urine flow rate returns to normal and they usually stop dribbling.

We will also need to explore how inflammation of the urinary bladder leads to suprapubic pain, and consider the two main causes of this, Bacterial Cystitis and Interstitial Cystitis .It often feels difficult to treat incontinence in the presence of bacterial cystitis, because such patients are overwhelmed by frequency and urgency of micturition and they may experience disabling suprapubic pain. It is fixable with the right treatment though. It all gets back to who is managing you.

On the other hand, a separate cause of Urinary Pain, called Interstitial Cystitis, does not usually cause much incontinence at all- it just causes suprapubic (bladder) pain with severe frequency and urgency of micturition.

The overactive bladder (OAB) is a clinical syndrome, not a urodynamic diagnosis. It comprises frequency, urgency, and nocturia, with or without urge incontinence.

Gynaecological conditions such as Endometriosis and Adenomyosis etc can also cause issues with bladder and pelvic floor.

Please read my post on Atrophic vaginitis as this is also another cause of weakness in the pelvic floor and bladder and could be a cause of incontinence.

No matter what sort of incontinence you have, there is always an answer and a solution to your problem. Not all solutions are surgical either. More often than not some conservative treatments, some exercises and some acupuncture is all that is needed. Sometimes all some women need is some treatments with estrogen creams to help with tone in the vagina, bladder and pelvic floor

Surgery and now bionic devices are always an option for those whom have tried conservative options and aren’t getting the desired results. Surgery is often used because of quality of life issues. Again surgery these days is so effective and less invasive and the recovery is so much quicker due to keyhole surgery and new surgical interventions.

If you are experiencing incontinence or bladder issues, please book in and see me, or a good pelvic floor/urodynamic specialist, so you can be evaluated properly and see what is going on and implement the right treatment strategies to get your quality of life back again. Many times there may be an easy non-invasive treatment for your particular issues. Even when surgical intervention is needed, these days even this is less invasive than it used to be and the recovery and results are very quick.

Please read my post of Atrophic Vaginitis as well as this all ties into this area too, especially for those women in the menopause and post menopausal time of their life.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

– Women’s & Men’s Health Advocate