Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: Should I get an implant to treat an overactive bladder?

Q. I'm 80 and suffer from an overactive bladder that hasn't responded to the usual treatments. My urologist is recommending an Interstim neuromodulator. What are the pros and cons of this therapy?

A. The Interstim neuromodulator is a small, surgically implanted device that's used to treat the symptoms of overactive bladder, a condition in which the bladder muscles contract suddenly, causing an abrupt and urgent need to urinate and sometimes urine leakage or incontinence. Many women with overactive bladder also have urinary frequency, that is, a need to urinate more than eight times during a 24-hour period, or two or more times at night.

Interstim therapy sends mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves, which lie just above the tailbone and control bladder muscle contractions. The electrical pulses help to correct faulty signals between the bladder and brain and improve external sphincter tone. Studies have shown that Interstim therapy helps reduce day and nighttime frequency as well as episodes of uncontrollable urgency.

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