Can electrical stimulation reduce or eliminate urinary incontinence?
Are electrical stimulation treatments effective for reducing or eliminating urinary incontinence? How do they work and what conditions benefit the most?
Electrical stimulation is a form of biofeedback to improve pelvic floor strength and inhibit bladder contractions. It works best in people with overactive bladder and symptoms of urge incontinence and/or stress incontinence. This treatment can occur in the office or with a portable home unit. It involves stimulation of pelvic floor muscles using painless electric currents. When the pelvic floor muscles are stimulated with electrical current, the muscles contract together with the urinary sphincter (preventing outflow of urine from the bladder). Contraction of the urinary sphincter causes reflex relaxation of the bladder, which also inhibits the sensation of urgency, including urge incontinence. Tibial-nerve (behind the ankle bone in the foot) and intravaginal stimulation are the most effective in treating urge urinary incontinence. Sacral-nerve stimulation, which is similar to a pacemaker but for the bladder, has also been shown to provide benefits and can be effective in severe cases.
Dr. Jennifer Berman, urologist and recurring co-host on “The Doctors,” has joined Depend.com to provide her insights into bladder leaks and related issues. She’ll be writing articles for us and responding to your questions here in our forums. If you have a question, please submit it in the comments and watch for the answer here in the next few weeks.