Midurethral Sling: My Gift to Myself for My 50th Birthday (and I'm Jumping for Joy!) by Belinda Lichty Clarke
Fifteen years after having kids, as I approached 50, I realized, glumly, that I had given up on a few activities I used to love. I could no longer enjoy even a short neighborhood run or a game of tennis without sufficient padding to catch the leaks, which is no fun at all. I decided I was too young to give up on running, so my internist recommended I see a urogynecologist (yep, it's a thing) to discuss my options.
A few months later, I got the best birthday present ever: a midurethral sling. Basically, midurethral sling procedures for treating stress incontinence use synthetic mesh to support the urethra. Note: this is not the same mesh or procedure you see all those scary lawsuit ads for on TV.
To be scientific about it, my doctor used the retropubic technique, which positions the mesh under the urethra in a U shape. The ends of the sling are brought up behind the pubic bone and out through incisions above the pubic bone. While I did have to wait eight weeks before working out and the first day afterward hurt a little, the procedure was pretty much a no-brainer and was covered by insurance.
"The midurethral sling procedure is performed in around 15 minutes through a tiny internal incision," explains Dr. Roger Goldberg at NorthShore University HealthSystem, who did my surgery. "Roughly 90 percent of women no longer leak, at all, with physical activity (running, coughing, laughing, jumping, etc.). The results of this sling have been truly amazing: high odds of success, with low rates of even minor complications. While nothing is perfect in the world, this has a phenomenal track record and is an option that in my opinion all women should be aware of."
I can't say it better myself. Pop jacks in gym class? No problem! Running 2 miles at the end of the day? No leaks AT ALL. In short, I feel like I got a little bit of my life back.
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