A Wee Miracle? The Chair That Claims To Zap Your Pelvic Floor Back Into Shape

Pelvic floor dysfunction is one of the most common issues affecting new mothers and, apparently, there's a new treatment where sufferers just sit while it does its thing.

According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, women who have given birth to even just one baby are three times more likely to leak urine and wet themselves than women who have not given birth.

Generally, 80-90 percent of women who have had a vaginal birth will suffer some form of dysfunction afterwards.

One of those sufferers is mother-of-one Le-Arne Barnett.

The 53-year-old told 10 daily that she couldn't go more than half-an-hour without having to go to the toilet.

Barnett said that if she didn't go and was forced to hold it in, she would experience immense pain that has only continued to get worse with age.

Sydney Gynecologist Dr Sonya Jessup told 10 daily that the trauma placed on a woman's pelvic floor muscles begins the moment she starts carrying a baby.

"That's because the head of the baby sits on the pelvic floor," Dr Jessup said.

Jessup went on to describe a woman's pelvic floor as a kind of "trampoline with a small hole in the middle of it".

"It's like a small triangular opening in a trampoline and is no bigger than two centimetres. In vaginal births, that's the hole the baby needs to pass through, and the baby's head is a lot bigger than two centimetres," she said.

It's while giving birth that a woman's pelvic floor muscle becomes stretched.

Treatment options

In the past, treatments included encouraging women to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles through exercises, such a kegels, or, in more serious cases, having to undergo surgery.

Jessup said the surgical options once included placing a sling mesh to help stop the bladder from prolapsing.

But, after a series of complaints from women who were fitted with the mesh, a Senate inquiry was held into its safety and reliability. The results were damning.

The aftermath of the inquiry resulted in the transvaginal mesh used for pelvic organ prolapse via transvaginal implantation being removed from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). The other product that ended up being withdrawn was the mini-sling.

For Jessup, the ban prompted her to start thinking about other ways medical professionals could treat the issue.

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Take A Seat

"I thought there has to be something else out there," Jessup said.

It was while she was over in the UK that she came across The Emsella Chair.

The chair's high-intensity focused electromagnetic technology (HIFEM) to restore "neuromuscular control" down below in people who have incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence is the most common form of incontinence.

"The action is similar to kegel exercises, however, with far more intensity," she said.

For Barnett, who at the time of the interview had completed three sessions, the chair has been "life-changing".

"I noticed an immense improvement straight away," she said.

"For the first time in 25 years, I made a 20 minute drive and didn't have to use the bathroom the minute I arrived at my destination."

The manufacturers of the Emsella Chair often spruik a study which found the treatment improved symptoms in 77 percent of women for up to three months.

However, the sample size was small -- it involved 32  two patients with light and moderate urinary incontinence.

A 2015 academic review of treatment options published in medical journal Neurourology and Urodynamic said, "There is no firm evidence to support the benefits of using Magnetic Stimulation (MS) in the management of Urinary Incontinence (UI), although short-term outcomes suggest that MS improves UI symptoms in women."

The authors went on to suggest that larger, high-quality trials over longer periods are needed.