One Patient’s Journey
At 72 years old, Marilyn D. is an active grandmother to eight grandchildren and a dedicated museum volunteer who enjoys hiking and traveling. But she suffers a common condition that affects as many as 20 million women in the U.S. that has caused disruptions and embarrassing moments in her day-to-day life.
Marilyn suffers from symptoms associated with accidental bowel leakage (ABL), a condition that many women suffer in silence, fearing accidents and restricting daily activities. The condition can be caused by pregnancy, childbirth, nerve or muscle damage in the pelvic region, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
She could never walk past a bathroom without thinking “Oh, I better just go.” And worse – there were accidents. “I felt uncomfortable having to excuse myself to go to the bathroom before, during, at intermission, and after plays. It was so unpredictable,” she said. “Maybe no one else noticed, but I was not pleased.”
Like many patients experiencing ABL, Marilyn was encouraged by a physician to change her diet. She also saw a physical therapist who encouraged her to do kegel exercises to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles. Yet she still suffered humiliating bowel leakage.
Previously, a patient’s last resort was more invasive treatments, such as surgery. But a new, recently FDA cleared device called the Eclipse™ System provides women a new, non-surgical option for accidental bowel leakage.
Dr. Heidi Wittenberg, director of the Urogynecology Center of San Francisco, is one of the first physicians in the United States to offer patients Eclipse, an innovative vaginal insert designed to provide immediate bowel control. Placed in the same location as a tampon or a diaphragm, the insert contains no hormones or drugs, and can be removed at any time.
“Women can be so completely devastated by loss of bowel control, even if they only experience occasional episodes,” said Dr. Wittenberg. “Women should not be embarrassed to speak to their physicians about this problem, as we do have a range of treatments. I am particularly excited to add Eclipse to my practice, as it offers a non-surgical option that is easily tried. For women like Marilyn, this product can deliver immediate results.”
In a clinical trial of women who used the insert for one month, Eclipse was effective in 86% of those successfully fit with the insert.[i] The most common adverse event was discomfort, most frequently associated with the fitting process and typically resolved by just removing the insert. At the end of the study, 96% of participants successfully fit with the insert found the Eclipse to be comfortable, and 98% reported that that they would recommend it to a friend.
“I was so relieved that I had an option other than surgery. It was simpler than I could even imagine and I forget that it’s there.”
Marilyn is looking forward to an upcoming international trip with her eleven-year-old grandson, and will be bringing her Eclipse System to ensure a worry-free adventure.
“This just made my life the way I want to live it. I have been very blessed with how it changed my life.”
About Dr. Heidi Wittenberg
Dr. Wittenberg is the director at the Urogynecology Center of San Francisco, specializing in alternative treatments for urogynecologic issues such as prolapse and incontinence. Dr. Wittenberg created the original Continence Center at California Pacific Medical Center. She has since developed the Comprehensive Pelvic Center at Pacific Gynecology & Obstetrics Medical Group office. She is one of the most experienced female robotic surgeons in the country, and San Francisco Magazine named her a 2017 Bay Area Top Doctor.
The Eclipse’s innovative technology came from Stanford University’s Biodesign program, a joint effort between the Schools of Medicine and Engineering. Pelvalon is a privately-held company, founded in 2010 with the mission to empower women to take control of their health.
For more information, please contact the Urogynecology Center of San Francisco (UGCSF).
[i] Richter, Holly E. PhD, MD; Matthews, Catherine A. MD; A Vaginal Bowel-Control System for the Treatment of Fecal Incontinence. Obstetrics & Gynecology: March 2015 – Volume 125 – Issue 3 – p 540–547