Harvard Women's Health Watch

Comparing surgeries for stress incontinence

If conservative approaches don't stop the leakage, it may be time to look into surgical options.

Over the decades, surgeons have introduced dozens of procedures to ease stress incontinence, the leakage of urine that can occur when you jump, cough, laugh, or exert yourself. One in 25 women in the United States — one in 12 of those over age 60 — has already undergone surgery to stop urine leakage, and the numbers are expected to grow as the population ages. But until now, women and their clinicians had little information from randomized trials to help them decide which approach to take.

"Individual surgeons and hospitals have described their results before, but finally the procedures are being compared in head-to-head, multicenter trials so we can see which have the best results," says Dr. Kathy Niknejad, a urological surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

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