Stress urinary incontinence is a widespread problem that affects millions of women around the world. It is also a problem that can be difficult to talk about and not all women are aware of the help available to overcome the problems. Lund-based Invent Medic, that markets Efemia bladder support, plays an active part in informing women about the available help.
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a type of urinary incontinence that makes it difficult to prevent leakage when the pressure on the bladder temporarily increases. This can occur, for example, when sneezing, coughing or exercising. The embarrassing feeling of not being able to stop leakages is mixed with the worry that the leakage will be visible or smell, which inhibits the woman in her everyday life.
It is common for problems to occur in connection with pregnancy and childbirth, but it also affects many women during menopause. Thus, the majority of women who suffer from stress urinary incontinence are aged 25 – 55 and not, as many believe, older women in nursing homes. In Sweden, one in five women are affected to some degree by these problems and among women who have given birth, one in four are affected.
No woman wants to have urine leakages on a daily basis
The most used aid against various forms of incontinence by far today are various absorbent products, such as sanitary pads or diapers. There are also various drugs that can help if the bladder is overactive. To get an idea of the market size for these types of products, one can note that pads and adult diapers for women are estimated to sell annually for about 2.3 billion USD and incontinence drugs sell for about 3 billion USD, in the U.S. alone.
Absorbent products work well, but they do not stop the leakage. Many women find it unpleasant to constantly pee themselves, worrying about whether it will leak through or if the pad is in the right position.
Invent Medic wants to provide a new effective tool
Shame mixed with not knowing about the help that is available means that not all women not accept their problem and seek help. Those who do seek help are often met with long queues to gain access to a specialist. Klara Rasmusson is the sales and marketing manager at Invent Medic, the company behind Efemia bladder support – a medical device designed to help women suffering from SUI.
“In Skåne, the queue to get specialist care is more than 13 weeks and then you have to wait another 13 weeks to get surgery scheduled. In other words, the National Guaranteed Access to Healthcare (Se: Vårdgarantin) is not fulfilled,” she tells BioStock.
According to Rasmusson, women need more information about the help available, while the healthcare system needs effective tools. And this is exactly what Invent Medic bladder support aims to provide. The product is designed to support the bladder’s natural closure function and prevent leakage when the pressure on the bladder increases.
An important part of the work with getting the product to the market is to get it procured as an aid in national and regional healthcare systems. Invent Medic has succeeded well in Sweden and the bladder support is procured in 11 of Sweden’s 21 regions. The product is also available through prescription in Norway, Germany, and the UK.
Campaigns to reach out to the active woman
In the marketing efforts, the company works systematically to increase the awareness among women about the problems of SUI and to inform about what help is actually available.
“The fact that stress urinary incontinence is highlighted and discussed widely is very important to break the taboo that still exists around the subject. Many women do not know what aids are available”, Invent Medic’s CEO Anna Lindström commented in connection with the recent highlighting of Efemia bladder support in the Danish exercise magazine I FORM.
That was the latest of several campaigns where the company reached out to active women in the Nordic region. Another example is last year’s collaborations with Runacademy and OWNIT, which sell online training courses in, among other things, crossfit, gymnastics and children’s exercise.
Training and stimulation to strengthen and activate the musculature
Today when women turn to healthcare, the first and perhaps most important measure against SUI is so-called pelvic floor training. Pelvic floor training was introduced in the 1950s and is aimed at increasing the strength and endurance of the muscles in the pelvic area.
However, in order for the training to have an effect, it is important that the patient exercises the right muscles and does this daily. Even if the patient does the exercises, it can take several months before the results begin to show, and many give up prematurely.
Last summer, Invent Medic initiated a collaboration with the menopausal app Olivia with the aim of spreading information about the help available during menopause, with a particular focus on pelvic floor training. The collaboration has published a series of articles on menopause and launched an exercise program for women who need to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Surgery when nothing else helps
But pelvic floor training may not be enough for everyone. For many women, the damage to the pelvic floor muscles is so great that exercise alone does not help to stop urine leakage. Then surgery may be necessary. The most common procedure is to insert a so-called vaginal sling, which is either made of a synthetic material or taken from patient’s own tissue. The sling acts as a kind of hammock, where the goal of surgery is to provide an additional support to the urethra and urethral neck, helping to keep the urethra closed when the bladder is subjected to pressure, so that it does not leak urine.
As discussed earlier, it can take a long time from the time the patient seeks care until she can have surgery. During this time, Efemia bladder support can make it easier for the patient in everyday life. It is true that surgery can be a good long-term solution to incontinence symptoms, but it is also associated with some risks.
Infections, pain during intercourse and an overactive bladder are some examples of that. In addition, the procedure is relatively extensive and not all women are willing or able to go through it. Here, too, the Efemia bladder support is seen as a good alternative to help women live an active life without being limited by urine leakage.The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.