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Are there ways to fix urinary incontinence in women other than surgery or drugs?

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Many women experience bothersome urine loss on their way to the bathroom (urge urinary incontinence), and also with laughing, coughing or sneezing (stress urinary incontinence). When women experience both types of urine leakage, their condition is called mixed urinary incontinence. It's estimated that 20 to 36 percent of women suffer from mixed urinary incontinence, which is challenging to diagnose and treat because symptoms vary and guidelines for treatment are not clear.

A clinical review entitled “Clinical Crossroads – Female Mixed Urinary Incontinence” by Deborah L. Myers, director of the Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, has been published in the May 21, 2014 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). “Because mixed urinary incontinence involves both types of incontinence, it is difficult to treat. Our goal was to review the diagnosis and management of mixed urinary incontinence in women, with a focus on current available evidence,” says Dr. Myers, according to a June 6, 2014 news release, "Clinical review published in JAMA."

Dr. Myers reviewed 73 published articles that discussed the prevalence, diagnosis, results, and treatment of mixed urinary incontinence. She found that there is high-quality evidence for treating urinary incontinence with weight loss, for treating stress urinary incontinence with surgery, and for treating urge urinary incontinence with medications.

Treating urinary incontinence with weight loss

“However, there is a lack of direct, high quality evidence for treating women with mixed urinary incontinence, as well as an absence of clear, diagnostic criteria and management guidelines for these patients. Because of this, treatment usually begins with conservative management emphasizing the most bothersome component,” continues Dr. Myers, according to the news release. “There is a clear need for randomized trials in women with mixed urinary incontinence.”

Women & Infants Hospital is currently a member of the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network (PFDN), a team of doctors and researchers from eight clinical research centers around the country funded by the National Institutes of Health to improve the level of knowledge about pelvic floor disorders such as an overactive bladder. Through research studies, the team will be able to identify the most effective ways to care for women.

Through their participation in the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network, Dr. Myers and her colleagues are currently recruiting patients for the ESTEEM Study – Effects of Surgical Treatment Enhanced with Exercise for Mixed Urinary Incontinence. Vivian Sung, MD, MPH, of Women & Infants Hospital and the Alpert Medical School, is the principal investigator of this national study comparing two approaches for treating mixed urinary incontinence (MUI) in women, a midurethral sling alone or a midurethral sling combined with behavioral pelvic floor muscle therapy before and after surgery. For information about this and other studies at Women & Infants Hospital, Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery, you also can visit the hospital's department of urogynecology website.

About Women & Infants Hospital
Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the eighth largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country with nearly 8,400 deliveries per year. In 2009, Women & Infants opened the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

New England’s premier hospital for women and newborns, Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s only mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants Hospital has been designated as a Breast Center of Excellence from the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center for In Vitro Maturation Excellence by SAGE In Vitro Fertilization; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health; and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the National Institutes of Health’s Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.

Consumers might also question various experts in complementary and integrative medicine and nutrition on whether there are any nutrition-related changes or dietary approaches that have been shown to work well related to the issue of certain urogynecology symptoms, especially if the symptom is related to weight management.

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