Stress Incontinence

Procedure: TVT surgery

Consultant: Mr Ash Monga 

Stress incontinence – why did I live with it for so many years?”

Stress incontinence – why did I live with it for so many years? If only I had known I would have had my TVT surgery 10 years ago. I thought nearly everyone had problems with leaking when sneezing and jumping, particularly after having children. I realise now that I could have had fun on the trampoline with my children instead of finding excuses not to join in and watching from the side lines.

I was afraid and ashamed to go to my GP because I had not done my pelvic floor exercises. I felt I would be turned away or sent off to do my exercises which I instinctively thought would not do any good at this late stage. Things got so bad I was driven to go to my GP. My stress incontinence problems had worsened, running was now a problem and the final straw was leaking whilst out Christmas shopping. It was clear that there was an ever increasing problem and stress certainly made it worse.

My GP was great. There was no discussion or debate as she said she could highly recommend a gynaecologist who worked out of Southampton. This was Mr Ash Monga and how privileged I was to be referred to the person who had pioneered this surgery not just nationally but in the Northern Hemisphere. Mr Monga was very kind, sensitive and informative in all the consultations I had with him and his team were incredibly helpful both before and after the surgery.

To evaluate my suitability for the surgery I had to keep an input/output diary for 72 hours which I was initially daunted by. However once I had worked out the logistical arrangements I was soon analysing the results and was fascinated to see there were positive outcomes from eating more fruit and vegetables on two of the days. Obviously, one of the benefits of the five portions a day is that the extra fluid in fruit and vegetables assists the flushing out of the body so it isn’t just about the fibre, vitamins and minerals!

I also had an urodynamics test which checks flow and x-rays are taken of the bladder. I saw Mr Monga immediately after these tests. I was fortunate the tests showed that I was suitable for the TVT procedure so I was able to choose there and then when I had my surgery, which happened to be Friday of the following week. It was 39 days from visiting my GP to having my surgery, I am so lucky to have private medical insurance.

My surgery was an incredible experience. The anaesthetist offered either a spinal where I would be fully conscious, partly conscious or a full general. I wasn’t too sure so he suggested we could try a spinal and if I didn’t like it we could go to the next stage and to a full general if needed. I tried the spinal and stayed with it, the whole experience suited my inquisitive nature. It wasn’t quite as noisy as ER but then I was attended by a team of professionals not actors! It was a very strange sensation being numb from the waist down for quite a few hours after the surgery and stranger still when my leg was bent upwards at the knee by one of the nurses, seeing it without any feeling of it getting there was something else! The after effects of the spinal were a lot less than a general anaesthetic and so my recovery time was very quick. I went home the following day, was driving within a few days and playing badminton six days later. Less than 48 hours after my surgery I sneezed and to my sheer delight I was dry.

I can now sneeze for England, run around a badminton court for an hour and run with or after my children and I honestly feel at least 10 years younger. It has taken a few months to break the habit of crossing my legs when I feel I am going to sneeze and it is still a wonderful feeling to be dry! Totally liberating!

Knowing how significantly the surgery has improved my quality of life I would recommend it to anyone, you don’t need to suffer the indignity or inconvenience of stress incontinence and it will only get worse.

I also have a lot to thank Mr Monga for. His first question at our initial consultation was regarding cervical and breast screening, was I up to date? I had, in fact, missed my first mammogram due to a sudden death of a close family member two years earlier. I had intended making another appointment but had not got round to it. His questions prompted me to make an appointment and my mammogram showed a very small breast cancer which has now been removed. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to get round to making the appointment without his prompting. I have to thank Mr Monga from the bottom of my heart for that vital prompt which may have saved my life and certainly has saved me from needing chemotherapy. I would have preferred not to have had a breast cancer but the circumstances could not have been better because it was detected so early. The breast surgeon said it would not have been there had I gone for the mammogram in January and it would have undoubtedly been bigger when I was next due for screening three years later. I really do feel I have a guardian angel looking out for me. To all who read this make sure you help your guardian angel by attending screening and looking after yourself.

Good luck with your surgery! You are in expert hands with Mr Monga and his team.

Sue underwent surgery for stress incontinence. This surgery is called transvaginal tape surgery or TVT. 

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