It’s one of the most common medical conditions out there. Women and men both suffer from it. It’s caused by common life experiences, gravity and aging. While common, it’s rarely spoken of. Urinary incontinence – if you suffer with this condition you are not alone. In Canada, urinary incontinence affects over 3.5 million people. It is a frustratingly chronic condition that has a huge impact on quality of life.
For women, incontinence can be a consequence of pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and pelvic surgery. For men, causes can include andropause, prostate or bladder surgery and occupations that involve heavy lifting and straining. For men and women, aging alone can be the culprit.
There are different types of incontinence, but the most common types are stress and urge incontinence. If laughing, sneezing, coughing, jumping or running leads to leaks you may have stress incontinence. If you’re waking frequently at night to urinate or racing to get to the washroom or planning your outings around washroom access, then may have urge incontinence.
Whether stress or urge incontinence, the principal issue revolves around the fact that the pelvic floor muscles which support the bladder become lax with age and injury. Laxity means the bladder is not properly supported and this leads to incontinence.
"Stress and urge incontinence are common conditions that have an outsized impact on an individual's daily quality of life. The medical community has had limited success treating this frustrating problem and has moved away from interventions such as bladder surgery due to risks and complications. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can be helpful but is invasive and requires significant commitment,” says Dr. Mary Peirson, medical director of ArtMed cosmetic medicine clinic.
Since pelvic floor muscle laxity is the culprit, exercising and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is the key to improving bladder support and lessening incontinence. You can do this by intentionally contracting and tightening your pelvic floor muscles - this is called Kegel exercises. But it can be difficult to identify which muscles to contract and performing the number of Kegels necessary to effect genuine clinical improvement is very often unachievable.
Enter high intensity focused electromagnetic (HIFEM) stimulation therapy, something Dr. Peirson calls “a real therapeutic game-changer”. This non-invasive treatment known as Emsella isolates and contracts pelvic floor muscles for you with much greater intensity and number of contractions than would ever be possible doing Kegels yourself. Dr Peirson also says, “Doing your own Kegels is like strolling around the block, still a good thing to do, but Emsella treatment is like running from Guelph to Toronto and back. It’s just a great deal more exercise than people can ever do on their own. The pelvic floor requires that much exercise and strengthening to see significant improvement with incontinence.” Emsella treatment is clinically proven to improve continence, is easy to maintain, and offers secondary benefits to the entire urogenital zone
So, what is the treatment like? It couldn’t be simpler. You sit on the Emsella armchair, fully clothed, and a large magnet in the seat of the chair transmits high intensity, focused electromagnetic pulses about 10 centimetres up into the pelvis which causes contraction of targeted pelvic floor muscles. Repeated exercise of the pelvic floor muscles improves muscle strength and tone which tightens up support for the bladder thereby improving continence. Treatment is extremely safe and comfortable, and you can return to daily activities immediately.
During each 28-minute Emsella treatment, a person will do 11,800 Kegel contractions. Typically, an individual can recruit about 40% of their muscle strength when doing their own Kegel exercises but with Emsella muscles achieve over 90% strength which is called supramaximal contraction. Emsella’s high technology treatment cycles include facilitated rest phases to clear any lactic acid that can accumulate during exercise. This means that even after doing 11,800 Kegels you will not have sore muscles the next day.
Because Emsella employs magnet technology much like an MRI, the main contraindication to treatment is metal inside the body (such as metal joint replacements, copper IUD or implanted electronic devices). External metal such as belts, piercing jewellery or clothing with metal studs must not be worn during treatment.
The treatment protocol for this exciting new technology simply involves coming into the clinic for a series of twice-weekly 28-minute HIFEM sessions for three weeks in a row (a total of six treatments). For individuals over the age of 65, treatment once per week for 8 weeks is recommended. Emsella treatments do require some follow-up maintenance (to maintain muscle strength and tone), but the amount will differ from person to person. For most people, this will involve a single treatment a couple times a year.
To ensure that the treatment is appropriate for each patient, a thorough pre-screening protocol is undertaken. At ArtMed, this involves an in-person consult and completion of detailed intake forms.
Success is measured in the stories of real people. Jane Watson, co-owner of ArtMed, recommends reviewing testimonials from Emsella patients on the website RealSelf. RealSelf is an aggregate of individual reviews by people who have had aesthetic treatments. Individuals posting reviews are not paid, it’s simply a space where people share their personal experiences.
Emsella is manufactured by BTL, an industry-leading manufacturer of medical and physiotherapy equipment in Europe. Emsella is Health Canada approved with published scientific studies demonstrating its safety and effectiveness for a wide range of patients suffering from urinary incontinence. A multi-centre study reported an average 64.4% improvement in symptoms and a 54% decrease in the use of incontinence pads. Additionally, 64% of patients were relieved of nighttime urinary leakage while sleeping. Fewer visits to the bathroom at night can improve sleep quality leading to a host of health benefits.
While this is not an OHIP insured procedure, some individuals may find their private health insurance will cover the cost of treatment. Clients who book an Emsella consultation at ArtMed between December 1st - 23rd, 2020 will receive 3 FREE treatments (valued at $900) when they purchase an Emsella package for $1800. Emsella packages are typically 6 treatments, but this special will upgrade your Emsella package to the Ultimate Cycle which is 8 treatments. Clients then will also receive one free maintenance treatment. As of January 1st, Emsella packages go back to their regular price (see website for details).
Urinary incontinence can have an out-sized impact on an individual’s everyday quality of life. For people who suffer with this very common condition, Emsella may be a treatment that can improve their life substantially.
ArtMed specializes in cosmetic medicine. Learn more about their high-frequency electromagnetic stimulation therapy here.