Incontinence, urinary - Kate's story 

'Women should not feel embarrassed' 

Incontinence: Kate's story

Kate first experienced symptoms of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) after having a hysterectomy. She suffered in silence for eight years before getting help.

Media last reviewed: 22/11/2013

Next review due: 22/11/2015

Kate first had symptoms of stress incontinence after having a hysterectomy. She coped alone for eight years before she sought help.

At first, Kate ignored her symptoms because they were mild and she thought they were a natural part of ageing. However, her symptoms became progressively worse and began to have a huge impact on her life.

She’d always been sporty and enjoyed going to aerobics classes, but she felt unable to continue with her old exercise regime for fear of leaking. She became nervous about the types of clothing she wore.

Finally, fed up with the condition and especially not knowing when she was going to leak, Kate told her doctor. She was referred to a physiotherapist who taught her how to do pelvic floor muscle exercises. For a while she managed by wearing pads, hoping the exercises would help. When that didn’t work, Kate went back to her doctor and was prescribed medication to control her symptoms.

“There are several different routes for treating stress incontinence,” Kate says. “They vary depending on the individual, but the medication wasn’t for me."

Kate's medication had a number of side effects, such as loss of libido, feeling tired and raised blood pressure. It was also not 100% successful in stopping the leaking.

“I decided to have an operation to insert a vaginal tape,” she says. “It was very quick, with minimal scarring and just a little discomfort for a few days afterwards.”

Six weeks later, Kate felt better than she had in years. “I’m able to run, cough and laugh without fear of leakage. I’m back at the gym, doing Pilates, and I feel really positive. It takes longer to pee, but it's great not to fear leaking or having to get up in the middle of the night.

“Women should not feel embarrassed about having stress incontinence or feel as if it's their fault,” she says. “After talking to my friends about stress incontinence, I realise how common it is.”

Page last reviewed: 21/09/2012

Next review due: 21/09/2014

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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

kathy67 said on 27 October 2012

I had the TVT operation 6 months ago. My stress incontinence problem started gradually after having 3 children in my twenties. I tried the non-invasive treatments but by the time I was 50 I was leaking urine almost constantly and virtually housebound. I was really worried about lots of things:-the procedure; post op infection; about it maybe not working and causing other problems. Post op I had no infections and a tiny amount of pain; it takes longer to “pee”, urine is darker and “smellier”; rare quick urge to “pee”. The hardest thing was remembering not to lift anything too soon! The op has worked completely. I have not regretted having this operation – the surgeon and his team have given me my life back.

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taz9705 said on 25 November 2011

I had this operation September 2010, unfortunately I was one of the ones whose problems were made worse by having a TVT. From the moment I had the operation I was dry, but that was due to the fact I couldn't urinate at all. After 8 weeks my surgeon was going to cut the tape to loosen it, but on closer examination discovered that the tape had eroded into my urethera, so I had to have a supra pubic catheter fitted, and now, several corrective operations later, am more incontinent than ever. I have very little bladder control at all now. My only hope is yet more surgery and at least several more months of suffering. Having the TVT is definitely a decision that I regret

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Rotarygirl said on 19 February 2010

I had this operation a week ago, and it has stopped the leaking straight away. I haven't experienced much in the way of pain or discomfort since the operation, though the night I spent in hospital was uncomfortable. However, I had another procedure at the same time, and it was probably this additional surgery that was the more likely cause of the discomfort. I agree with Kate that women shouldn't suffer in silence. My motivation for getting this problem fixed was seeing my elderly grandmother's enormous incontinence pads. Exertion leakage, as my consultant calls it, doesn't get any better of its own volition, and intervention is needed to improve things, either exercises, medication or surgery. The prospect of having to use proper incontinence pads in the future really focussed my mind on getting this problem fixed before it got any worse. And I'm really pleased with the outcome.

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