Stem Cells May Ease Urinary Incontinence, Study Says

By Maureen Salamon HealthDay Reporter Latest Womens Health News

FRIDAY, July 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For the millions of women who can't cough, sneeze or laugh without losing bladder control, researchers are testing a treatment that uses stem cells to regenerate weakened urethra muscles.

In a small pilot study, European researchers found that injecting stem cells isolated from patients' own fat tissue improved or eliminated stress incontinence in all participants within a year.

Stress incontinence affects about twice as many women as men because of pelvic floor strain from pregnancy and childbirth.

Most women who choose to treat the condition undergo a procedure that inserts surgical mesh between the urethra and vagina to reduce urine leakage, urologists said. But widening controversy over the use of surgical mesh makes the idea of stem cell treatment even more attractive.

"This is an application that makes sense because of the ease of access to the urethra, which isn't a difficult area to inject," said Dr. Timothy Boone, chairman of urology at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, who wasn't involved in the study.

Globally, similar research is under way on the use of stem cells to treat stress incontinence.

However, "a lot of other stem cell therapies are a lot more invasive," Boone added. "It's too soon to tell, but the hope would be that a significant number of women would benefit from this and avoid the possible complications of surgery."

The study is published online in the July issue of the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

Stress incontinence occurs when pelvic floor muscles supporting the bladder and urethra become too weak to prevent urine flow when pressure is placed on the abdomen. The problem can range from being a nuisance to highly debilitating.

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Stem Cells May Ease Urinary Incontinence, Study Says

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