What types of surgery can help women with incontinence?

For women, surgeries for stress incontinence are designed to provide extra support for the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body) so it can remain closed under physical stress, such as during coughing or sneezing. This can be done by several methods. For years, the best method was the Burch procedure, a form of bladder neck suspension in which the surgeon places stitches on either side of the urethra and bladder neck and attaches the stitches to a ligament at the top of the pubic bone. Now, the most common procedure involves a simple-to-install sling that supports the urethra hammock-style.

Before you and your doctor decide on surgery, you will need to have detailed diagnostic testing to help determine which type of surgery would work best. The availability of minimally invasive procedures has led physicians to consider surgical treatment for stress incontinence in women who are younger and have less severe incontinence. However, women who hope to have future pregnancies are often advised to postpone surgery if possible until childbearing is complete, because delivering a baby through the vaginal canal may undo the effects of the surgery. If you do choose surgery, choose carefully, because additional attempts may be less successful.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.