Image of patient Sherri Selmanson

At age 67, Sherri Selmanson is a master at multi-tasking. Then again, she has to be in order to maintain her active lifestyle.

From pilates and archery to playing the drums, Sherri believes in living each day to its fullest. And no matter what she has had on her plate the last four years, she never misses her daily running ritual of training for the next 5K.

  • But much to her dismay, about three years ago, her urinary incontinence, or the loss of bladder control, caught up with her. That’s when she first noticed leakage problems, and a need to use the restroom repeatedly during a 5K.

“It wasn’t long before I knew where every restroom was on my circuit, and I found myself looking ahead to the next stop,” says Sherri, a community service volunteer from Long Beach.

Sherri was desperate for solutions. She did everything in her power to gain control, including the use of incontinence pads, reduced water consumption and carefully timed trips outside of the house. She even improvised a mid-section belt to keep her bladder from moving while running. Unfortunately, nothing provided the relief that Sherri needed.

One day, I finally decided I’d had enough. It was affecting the quality of my life, there had to be something available out there. I was ready to ask for help.

Sherri Selmanson

Taking Action

More than 40 percent of women between the ages of 60 and 79, as well as at least half of all women age 80 and older experience some form of pelvic health disorder. Pelvic floor disorders include dysfunction in bowel and bladder function, but also the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments. Patients may experience leakage of urine or stool but they also may develop constipation or difficulty passing urine. Weakening of the pelvic floor connective tissue, ligaments and muscles can cause pain or pressure in the vagina, and herniation of the pelvic
organs through the vagina.

Sherri scheduled an appointment with her OB/GYN, who immediately referred her to Jocelyn Craig, M.D., urogynecologist, Center for Women’s Pelvic Health, Long Beach Medical Center.

Too many women believe that what they’re experiencing is a normal sign of aging, sometimes it is, but often there’s more going on that needs to be evaluated. Regardless, women like Sherri need to know that they have treatment options. They don’t need to just accept this as their new normal.

Jocelyn Craig, M.D.

Pelvic Perspectives

Approximately 11 million women are affected by urinary incontinence – but less than 10 percent seek treatment.

While menopause may affect middle-aged women, women of all ages are susceptible to pelvic problems. Childbirth – especially for those who have had more than one child or C-sections – can easily impact the pelvic health of women in their 20s and 30s.

The Center for Women’s Pelvic Health integrates its pelvic health condition programs to offer comprehensive, personalized treatment plans for women of all ages. Urogynecologists, urologists, colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists and pelvic floor physical therapists work collaboratively to determine the best course of therapy to restore normal pelvic function. From non-surgical treatment options, including medication, pelvic muscle rehabilitation and intravaginal devices, to a wide spectrum of minimally invasive, robotic-assisted surgical procedures, women can find hope in regaining their quality of life.

“Women delay seeking help, typically because they’re embarrassed or they think surgery is their only choice. Women need to know that there are a wide range of surgical and non-surgical options available depending on the specific pelvic floor issue,” says Dr. Craig. “Non-surgical treatments include behavioral management and weight control. Also, pelvic muscle rehabilitation techniques are performed either through Kegel exercises or formal pelvic floor physical therapy under the direction of trained female therapists. There are also intravaginal devices, which patients can use on their own time that can improve bladder control.”

Newfound Freedom

Sherri found improved bladder control through Sacral Neuromodulation, delivered by the Interstim System®. This device operates much like a pacemaker and is easily performed as an out-patient procedure. Through gentle electrical stimulation, Sacral Neuromodulation can help correct the miscommunication between the brain and the bladder that can lead to urinary retention and urinary incontinence. It also is FDA approved for fecal incontinence.

Sherri’s recovery took just a few days. Within two weeks, she was running again.

“I recently finished second in a 5K for my age group – and I have to say that I’m glad the Center for Women’s Pelvic Health exists so other women can get help,” says Sherri. “I’ve regained control, and my confidence. Making the decision to ask for help was the best thing I’ve done in years.”