Olympian Goes Public with Incontinence

It’s the Winter Olympics! Skiing! Speed skating! If you’re like us, you are glued to the coverage in Sochi. Speed skating is an exciting sport, and Bonnie Blair is one of the most famous American Winter Olympians. In fact, she is the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. history.

Blair won five gold medals – the only American woman to win five gold medals in the Winter Olympics. She skated in the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics. Blair’s final Olympics were in 1994, where she captured her sixth medal and broke a record in the 1,000-meter race.

After retiring from speed skating, and after the birth of her first child, Blair was eager to get back into exercise. She wanted to continue to do the same vigorous activity before – but something was holding her back: stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

Stress urinary incontinence is a form of bladder incontinence. Sufferers have urine leaks during sneezing, coughing, laughing, jumping, running or other physical activity. This condition can happen due to injury to the pelvic floor muscles during childbirth. The muscles can be weakened due to giving birth, and thus are not strong enough to hold in urine during activity.

Blair went for a jog after her first child was born, and she did not make it more than a block before she leaked in her shorts. She was so embarrassed. She didn’t speak to anyone about it – she did not talk to her physician, or her husband. Blair said, “I was disheartened, I was frustrated, I was upset, I was embarrassed, and thought okay, well maybe I just drank too much or didn’t empty my bladder. I’m going to try this again tomorrow… exact same thing.”

After about a year, she went to see a physician about her condition. Blair’s physician recommended non-invasive at-home treatments such as Kegel exercises and physical therapy. These are always the first line of treatment.

Unfortunately, these measures did not work and Blair had urethral sling surgery. This is a minimally invasive procedure.

Dr. Frederick Klein, Blair’s urologist, said, “It’s a minimally invasive surgery, and extremely successful. Five-year data worldwide now, says 85% of patients are still dry and happy, and the other 15 to 16% are markedly improved.”

Blair spearheaded a national campaign to raise awareness for stress urinary incontinence, which affects millions of women. Too many women are ashamed and embarrassed about the condition, without realizing it isn’t their fault, they can’t control it, but there is help available. SUI is easily treatable, with surgical and non-surgical options.

“We need to dispel the myth that leaking is just a sign of aging,” added Dr. Klein. “Bonnie is young and healthy. It’s a problem from childbirth that caused it.”

Stress urinary incontinence is an easily treatable condition. It can be embarrassing and debilitating, but there is help.

Blair concluded, “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t think twice about it, that’s how easy it was… I really got my life back.”

If you or a loved one are suffering from stress urinary incontinence or other bladder issues, contact us. Or call our discreet, dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-771-1953.

About The Incontinence Institute

At the Incontinence Institute, our team of healthcare providers understand the physical and mental trials that accompany living with urinary or bowel incontinence. Because of this, we are sensitive to your situation and treat all of our patients with the utmost respect and concern for discretion.

Individual incontinence conditions, treatment and recovery times may vary. Each patient's experience with incontinence procedures and / or surgery will differ. All surgical procedures involve some level of risk. If directed to pursue surgery by your physician, prompt action is advised, as waiting may reduce the efficacy of surgical treatment. The opinions expressed in patient testimonials are by patients only; they are not qualified medical professionals. These opinions should not be relied upon as, or in place of, the medical advice of a licensed doctor, etc.

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