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Women's Lifestyle Magazine

Ask The Expert: Mark Traill, MD Radiology, Breast Imaging Metro Health – University of Michigan Health

Jun 12, 2020 02:47PM ● By Elyse Wild

Dr. Jannah Thompson, M.D. is Dual Board Certified in Urogynecology/Urology. After graduation from Hope College she completed medical school at MSU College of Human Medicine followed by Urology Residency at SUNY-Buffalo New York and fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery in St. Paul, Minnesota.Dr. Thompson’s unique understanding of the pelvic floor, caused her to recognize the need for female focused care. This realization drove her, as the first fellowship trained female urologist in West and Northern Michigan area, to start the first female focused practice in the area. 

This expanded understanding has brought recognition to Dr. Thompson across the country. She is asked frequently to train physicians. Her practice was recently named 1 of 4 InterStim Center of Excellence for 2020. This was to recognize her progressive and patient centered approach to treating Overactive Bladder and Bowel Incontinence.

What is a urogynecologist/urologist?

A physician with special training in female urology and pelvic health conditions; including those that affect female pelvic organs and supporting tissues. For example, a woman may notice bulging tissue at or past the vaginal opening, need to use a finger in the vagina to assist in passing urine or stool. Many experience accidental loss of urine or stool. Other common symptoms include inability to urinate or difficulty urinating or frequent urination.

How common are female pelvic problems?

Pelvic health problems are common but sadly we are led to believe by advertisement and our own acceptance of the message that “this is how it is going to be as we age”. However, incontinence is not a normal process of aging despite public understanding.

What is Overactive Bladder (OAB)? How is this different from Stress incontinence?

OAB is common. 1 in 6 women have OAB and it is more prevalent over the age of 40. Symptoms include urinary urgency, urinary frequency with or without leaking with an urge or UUI. Women can have some or all of these symptoms. OAB is a bladder function problem and SUI is a problem of support.

What is urinary incontinence? What causes it?

Urinary incontinence is the uncontrolled loss of urine. The most common causes fall into two main categories:

*Urge Incontinence (UUI): an involuntary loss of urine
with little to no warning associated with urgency.

*Stress incontinence (SUI): the unintentional loss of urine with straining, physical activity, sneezing, laughing, or coughing.

Do pelvic problems limit a woman’s life, including her
intimate relations?

Many of my patients tell me how they have limited travel, exercise and social activities especially in public places for fear of losing control of their bladder or bowel. A woman’s desire to be intimate or to enjoy intimacy with her partner are often negatively impacted. My office is a safe place to discuss these fears and develop together a treatment plan that will best allow a woman to resume the activities she desires.

I have loss of bowel control. Can you help this condition?

Yes! Urogynecologists are experts in treating accidental loss

of stool. Many women find it takes a long time to wipe clean but when they return to the bathroom, they find there is stool in the underwear or pad they did not expect. Many times, attention to diet, bowel habits and pelvic muscles can improve symptoms. Sacral Neuromodulation is an FDA approved procedure to help improve the communication between the brain and the bowel and bladder. 90% of patients who trialed InterStim have at least 50% improvement in accidental bowel loss.

What can be done to help a woman with pelvic problems? 

Is surgery the only option?

Lifestyle modification such as decreasing dietary acids, losing weight and smoking cessation may alleviate some symptoms. Medication is helpful as is a bladder diary that can assist the patient and physician in assessing the problem.

Surgical treatments do exist for incontinence and prolapse but surgery is not the only option. Specialized pelvic physical therapy with female physical therapists can be instrumental.

I have 3 experienced physical therapists in my office. They have helped many women take control of their lives again by improving their bladder symptoms.

When should a woman seek a doctor?

YOU should come see me and my team if any of the symptoms described above impact your quality of life. YOU deserve a healthy pelvis.