Mercy Urogynecologist Dr. Mark Ellerkmann Discusses Urinary Incontinence, Its Diagnosis And Treatment

February 6, 2012
Mercy urogynecologist Dr. R. Mark Ellerkmann

Mercy urogynecologist Dr. Mark Ellerkmann

Urinary incontinence is a common problem, especially among women, and there are things that can be done about it.

Devera Ruff said she'll occasionally have a coffee, but there was a time when it was strictly off limits for her because of urinary incontinence that started three years ago.

"It was just like, 'I just went to the bathroom, and I have to go again.' I would go and nothing would come out. It was frustrating and irritating," she said.

According to Ruff, it was disruptive to her day and to her sleep, so she changed her diet.

"I tried no Starbucks for a month, no ketchup on the french fries for a while, but I still had the urge despite the modifications. It did not help," she said.

Mercy urogynocologist Dr. Mark Ellerkmann noted that many things are linked with incontinence.

"Childbirth, obesity, occupations of heavy lifting and straining, chronic cough, diabetes, smoking — these are all associated with incontinence," he said.

The first step is ruling out other causes of the problem, such as urinary tract infections or the bladder not emptying fully.

While lifestyle changes, pelvic exercises and medication may help some women, they didn't work for Ruff. She had outpatient surgery with a little sling that supports the bladder.

"It's pieces of synthetic tape that go underneath the urethra that provide a backstop against which the urethra can press closed during coughing and sneezing," Dr. Ellerkmann said.

Ruff had the procedure, which takes about 20 minutes, in December reports she is now doing much better.

"I don't have the urge to go anymore. I also had problems when I coughed or sneezed — I would have a little leakage — but I don't have any of those problems anymore," she said.

Dr. Ellerkmann believes it is important to see a urogynocologist because they are board-certified subspecialists with three years of additional training.

Experts say more importantly, be sure talk to your doctor about the problem.



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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