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YOUR HEALTH: Stop the leaking

A new procedure could help women with incontinence problems

TAMPA, Fla. — It's embarrassing but it's also very common.

Stress incontinence is when physical movement or activity such as coughing, laughing or running puts pressure on the bladder causing a urine leak.

Nicole was looking for a solution that would let her live a normal life with her young daughter.

"Very embarrassing and terrifying."

Nicole's stress urinary incontinence meant the simplest things she did with fear.

"So I went from carrying a change of clothes for my daughter to carrying a change of clothes for me."

Stress Urinary Incontinence is caused by weakness in the pelvic floor. 

About one in three women have it at some point in their lives. 

Childbirth is the main cause.

"What happens is the urethra loses support that it used to have and so women will leak typically starting with coughing and sneezing, lifting, laughing, jumping that kind of activity," explained Dr. Ravi Bukkapatnam, a urologist at Tampa General Hospital.

Dr. Bukkapatnam used a hydrogel called Bulkamid to put a stop to Nicole's problem. 

The Bulkamid bulking agent is injected into the urethral wall.

"It's a clear gel that is easily injected and can take shape and can really bolster the urethra," said Dr. Bukkapatnam.

Although stress incontinence can occur with both men and women most of the time, it is most common in women due to pregnancy and childbirth, especially in women who have had multiple vaginal deliveries. 

During pregnancy and childbirth, the sphincter and pelvic muscles stretch out and are weakened. 

The muscles in the pelvis weaken; this in turn causes the bladder to drop down into a position that prevents the urethra from closing completely and the result is a leakage of urine

"People have been trying to fix stress incontinence for the last 30 plus 40 years," said Dr. Bukkapatnam. 

Bulkamid has finally fixed Nicole's problem.

"I am ecstatic. I love my new urethra. I love the fact that I can be active with my daughter."

Doctors say there are minimal, if any, side effects compared to sling surgery for urinary incontinence. 

Bulkamid was approved by the FDA in December, but the treatment has been used in other countries for 10 years and has been used to treat over 70,000 women in that time. 

Additional studies have shown that Bulkamid retains its characteristics for many years, providing long-lasting relief from symptoms. 

Patients usually go home the same day after the procedure and resume normal activities within 24 hours. 

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.