One out of every 20 people will experience some form of incontinence

a source of embarrassment

Some women experience an involuntary loss of urine especially when she would cough, sneeze or laugh. As a busy, working mother with three children, they found these situations a source of embarrassment.

Urinary incontinence - the uncontrollable or accidental loss of urine - is a common condition. One out of every 20 people will experience some form of incontinence - that's about 13 million Americans.

In fact, it is one of the most common health problems women can have. And incontinence follows no age boundaries, people of all ages can be afflicted, but it is especially common in women (85% are women) and in people over 65. Obviously, it can be an embarrassing and inconvenient condition.

Incontinence can be as mild as an occasional dribbling of urine, or as severe as a complete loss of bladder control, where urine leaks from the bladder without any warning or urge to urinate.

Incontinence affects more women than men, mainly due to the fact that women have a shorter urethra. Women may become incontinence after childbirth, or pelvic surgery, like a hysterectomy. An estimated 38 percent of American women have some degree of involuntary loss of urine.

Incontinence occurs when the bladder or the sphincter muscles of the urethra (small muscles that tighten and close the urethral tube), do not function properly. When any part of the urinary system fails to function properly, incontinence occurs.

Although all people with incontinence experience a loss of bladder control, each type of incontinence - stress incontinence, overflow inconti-nence and urge incontinence - has its own pattern of signs and symptoms.

There is a high rate of success in treating urinary inconti-nence and many more people are seeking help and treatment. The urologist plans the treatment based upon the type of incontinence and the patient.

In some cases, the urologist may recommend medica-tions, in other cases 'Kegel' (pelvic muscle) exercises will help increase the strength and thickness of the muscles in order to aid in stopping urine flow. But in some cases, surgery may be required to treat or remove the underlying problem.

In the past, the golden standard has been to open the abdomen and suspend the bladder from the pubic bone. This required the surgeon to make a large abdominal incision.

The patient was hospitalized for approximately one week and there was a recovery period at home of approximately six weeks.

Although the long term results for this open procedure are excellent, there have been many refinements in the surgical procedure for stress urinary inconti-nence including a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical procedure, called the Laparoscopic Burch Procedure.

During this advanced laparoscopic procedure, which in many cases can be performed on an outpatient basis, the urologist makes three small incisions in the abdomen, each measuring approximately one quarter of an inch.