By Joy Hampton The Norman Transcript, Okla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr)> "Therapy in Motion" co-owner Cindy Merrick wants to get across that women, and men, don't have to suffer if they are willing to open up and talk about their issues with their health providers.
The Norman Transcript, Okla.
While topics once considered taboo are now commonly talked about, there are many topics, including those affecting women's health and quality of life, that still aren't discussed -- sometimes even with health professionals.
"A lot of women are too embarrassed to talk about their problems," said Cindy Merrick, Therapy in Motion co-owner.
While women might be more likely to be suffer in silence, they aren't the only ones affected by embarrassing topics. Millions of Americans suffer from some type of incontinence annually, Merrick said. And while surgical remedies are available, surgery isn't the only available option.
"I treat both men and women who have urinary and fecal incontinence," she said. "This is a non-surgical option that has a 97 percent success rate. It's safe, and it's research proven."
The Mayo Clinic identifies incontinence as a symptom, not a disease, and recommends people see a doctor to identify any underlying medical conditions or physical problems. And while both Merrick and the Mayo say incontinence is more common as people get older, it isn't an inevitable consequence of aging.
"Women are more likely to have stress incontinence," according to mayoclinic.org. "Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and normal female anatomy account for this difference. However, men with prostate gland problems are at increased risk of urge and overflow incontinence."
Merrick said there are different types of incontinence.
Stress incontinence is accompanied by coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting, jumping and exercising.
"A lot of us when we get older, our pelvic floor stretches out," Merrick said. "Obesity is a factor. Diet is a factor."
Urge incontinence is leakage accompanied by a sense of uncontrolled urgency, and mixed incontinence is caused by a combination of exertion and urgency.
To treat the problem, Merrick employs four steps, starting with patient education on diet and how medications can affect bladder control, for example.
Core and pelvic floor strengthening follow, such as bladder retraining or urge suppression techniques. "Sometimes that's all they need," Merrick said. "Then if they need more than that, we do vaginal biofeedback."
Technology also helps with strengthening.
"I send them home with a pelvic floor stimulator," she said. "It teaches the muscles in the pelvic floor how to contract, and it makes you stronger."
Most insurance pays for the treatments, she said, but Medicare and Tricare require doctor referral.
"When we have patients come in, we do a head-to-toe evaluation on them," Merrick said. "The people who come in for incontinence and women's health, I will assess their pelvic floor strength and the strength of their trunk and their hips."
Other health issues Incontinence isn't the only "unmentionable" topic women may be loath to discuss, but often help is available even for the most sensitive of topics, Merrick said.
"People don't want to talk about the fact that it hurts when they have sex," Merrick said. "We treat chronic pelvic pain, cramps, pain with intercourse, endometriosis, post surgical adhesions, constipation, osteoporosis, lymphedema, sacroiliac dysfunction, spinal pain, menopausal concerns and organ prolapse."
Merrick works with women and their intimate partners on techniques in some cases, and in others, there are more advanced treatments. Massage techniques that can help many people with constipation, for example.
The message Merrick wants to get across is that women, and men, don't have to suffer if they are willing to open up and talk about their issues with their health providers.
"It really affects the quality of life for a lot of people," Merrick said.