Many women experience some level of bladder leakage, particularly after giving birth. This often happens when coughing, sneezing, exercising or even laughing. This is commonly accepted as “normal” and women learn ways to adapt to this potentially embarrassing problem, such as using menstrual pads.
Women don’t need to live with this condition. There are many treatment options available that are highly-effective, require minimal time and are successful in eradicating bladder leaks and incontinence.
Dr. Randall Kahan and Dr. Brett Vassallo are physicians at Northwest Community Healthcare’s Pelvic Floor & Bladder Program at the new NCH Women’s Center in Arlington Heights. With more than 52 combined years of expertise in obstetrics, gynecology and urogynocology, they are on a mission to end bladder leakage in women of all ages and educate about available treatments.
We talked to both physicians and learned more about who they are and some common misconceptions their patients have.
Q: What is your mission or philosophy regarding patient care?
Dr. Kahan: My main mission is to dispel some of the misconceptions women have about urinary incontinence. Many women choose to live with life-altering bladder problems because they are told that “it is a normal part of aging” and the treatment is often ineffective and very invasive. While this may have been true 20 years ago, we have made significant advances treating most of these problems with computer-assisted physical therapy and very minimally-invasive surgery. In 2021, there is simply no reason to alter your life to accommodate potentially embarrassing bladder issues.
Dr. Vassallo: I strongly believe in the importance of patient education. I encourage patients to ask questions and be active participants in their care. I want to help them understand treatment options so that we can create a care plan that aligns with their personal health goals.
Q: Do I need to have surgery if I am experiencing any bladder leakage or are there other options?
Dr. Kahan: Absolutely, many of our patients are candidates for pelvic floor physical therapy, which provides an excellent option for increasing pelvic floor muscle strength and an equally important opportunity to learn about behavioral strategy and dietary choices that can affect bladder function.
Dr. Vassallo: Many of the conditions we treat have non-surgical treatment options and we will discuss all of them.
Q: I heard surgery involves using permanently placed mesh. Is this true and is this safe?
Dr. Kahan: The FDA currently has a warning about the use of mesh in the vagina and some of the products that use large pieces of mesh have since been taken off the market. The small amount of mesh used for incontinence surgery has been used over 10 million times, and when done by someone who is experienced in placing the mesh, the risks of mesh erosion into surrounding vital organs is extremely minimal. Most of the surgeries done for pelvic organ prolapse are done without synthetic material. There are times that we use biological material to facilitate prolapse surgery.
Dr. Vassallo: Most of the primary prolapse repairs I do are what we call “native tissue repairs,” meaning, we repair the prolapse without implanting mesh, and instead use sutures and body tissue. We do often use a small piece of mesh to treat a specific type of urinary incontinence. While non-mesh surgical options are available, they can have lower success rates and higher complication rates.
To learn more about treatment options or schedule a consultation with either physician, call 847-618-0950 or visit our website to learn more about our Pelvic Floor and Bladder Program.