Mercy Urogynecologist Dr. Mark Ellerkmann Discusses The Role Weight Gain Can Play In Women's Urinary Incontinence

December 24, 2012
Mercy urogynecologist Dr. R. Mark Ellerkmann

Mercy urogynecologist Dr. Mark Ellerkmann

Urinary incontinence is one of the most common and embarrassing ailments affecting women, and doctors said there are many options for treatment, most of which don't involve surgery.

Recent statistics indicate that approximately 40 million American women have urinary incontinence,

One woman who only wanted to go by the name "Carol" noted that she started having problems over the summer.

"When I sneezed or coughed, that type of thing. Sometimes when I moved -- went from sitting to standing. I started doing yoga, and some of the moves I had problems with. It wasn't a lot, but it was impacting my life," she said.

Mercy urogynecologist Dr. Mark Ellerkmann diagnosed Carol with stress incontinence. There's another kind of incontinence called urge incontinence, which is the sudden need to go often, and some women have both.

According to Dr. Ellerkmann, the first line of therapy for some patients is to lose weight.

"With increased weight there is increased pressure on the pelvic floor, and that weight -- that increased pressure -- is transmitted to the bladder and the bladder neck, and if there is weakness at all, then incontinence can ensue," Dr. Ellerkmann said.

Other behavioral therapies include avoiding foods that irritate the bladder, such as caffeine; picking certain times of day to use the bathroom to retrain the bladder; and physical therapy.

Iif those don't work, there are medications for urge incontinence and surgery for stress incontinence. One surgery includes implanting a mesh sling to support the bladder is an outpatient surgery that only takes about 30 minutes.

"We put a piece of synthetic tape underneath the urethra. This is done through a very small incision in the vagina, and it works 70-90 percent of the time," Dr. Ellerkmann said.

It worked for Carol. She underwent the mesh sling surgery in October and said it was an easy procedure. Her advice for other women with incontinence is to do something about it




Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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