(WJBK) - Incontinence can be embarrassing problem that few women really want to talk about, but two women are sharing their story because they've found a simple solution and want to get the word out.
Sixty-two-year-old Cheryl Nagengast actually gets tears in her eyes as she describes intimacy with her husband now, because for 15 years there was none. After a hystrorectomy, it was just too painful.
"It was like shards of glass, and was totally without intercourse for those years because it was very painful," she says.
Cheryl is a competitive athlete - a swimmer in the senior Olympics - but all the fitness in the world couldn't fix her pain during sex and, another embarrassing problem, was that two pregnancies led to a weak bladder, and then, incontinence.
"I'm very active, and doing any kind of exercise there was leakage," she says.
In fact, incontinence affects 20 million women and is sparked by pregnancy, childbirth or menopause.
Sixty-year-old Charlene McLaughlin ignored the symptoms until she couldn't.
"I was ziplining ... when all of a sudden I was like, 'Oh, my. Did I just have a problem?'" she remembers.
So what's the fix?
For some, surgery is the only answer. But now, there may be a new option.
"What's so remarkable about this, it's takes surgery out of the loop," says Joseph Berenholz, M.D. OB/GYN.
The possible answer is in a little wand called Thermiva.
Dr. Berenholz explains it uses radio frequency.
"Radiofrequency is thermal energy, and the thermal energy stimulates the production of collagen, the reguvenation of nerve endings, the reguv of the vascular or blood supply to the area," says Dr. Berenholz.
Small published studies found when inserted into the vagina, Thermiva worked on tightening skin. But then doctors discovered an added bonus: it was helping women with incontinence.
"What Thermiva does, is it enchances the production of collegen anD elasten in the area, bulks up that so-called neck of the bladder," explains Dr. Berenholz. "There's less mobility, and therefore less urine loss."
After a serveral treatmens over several months, the women are amazed.
"I don't have to worry! It's almost like stepping back in time and being your younger self," says McLaughlin.
"I'm ecstatic. I have my competitions coming up; I don't have to keep running to the restroom to change pads," says Nagengast.
And for Nagengast, another added bonus is no more dryness. Thermiva restored circulation, and she thanks the doctor for restoring her relationship.
"I thank him and my husband thanks him every single day because we have regained our relationship that had been lost," she says.
This is an off label use of Thermiva. Right now, the company behind Thermiva is trying to expand FDA approval to include incontinence. Each treatment takes about 20 minute, and it's not covered by insurance. So, out-of-pocket cost can go as high as $3,000.
If you'd like more information, visit thermivamichigan.com.