It is a condition many people are uncomfortable talking about: stress urinary incontinence affects 15 million women in the U.S.
Every year, tens of thousands undergo surgery to fix it, but, it doesn't always work.
Now, a promising new non-surgical option can be done right in your doctor's office.
A laugh, sneeze or cough is all it takes to trigger an embarrassing problem.
"It really impacted the quality my life," said Carolyn Upton.
Upton first noticed she was having trouble controlling her bladder in her mid-forties. The exercise enthusiast had stress urinary incontinence.
"Running, jumping jacks, all those things were really terrible for me," she said.
She was one of 64 women picked for a first of its kind study at Beaumont Hospital.:
"It's like, the body heal thyself," said Kenneth Peters, MD, Chief of Urology at Beaumont Hospital.
Urologist Kenneth Peters leads the research team that is testing a non-surgical procedure to help and possibly cure stress urinary incontinence.
"The nice thing about this is, it's all office based," said Dr. Peters.
At their doctor's office, patients underwent a leg biopsy.
"We would take a little piece of muscle," said Dr. Peters.
Cells from that muscle were isolated. Then, over several weeks grown in the lab and separated into different doses. Of ten million, 50 million, 100 million or 200 million cells.
The cells were re-injected and helped regenerate muscles that control the bladder. Within six months.
"The majority of patients had at least 50% reduction in their incontinence,” said Dr. Peters. “Depending on the dose, anywhere from 20-50% of patients become completely dry."
Dr. Peters said it appears the higher the dose the better the outcomes. Carolyn tells us her problem is about 80% better since the procedure.
"It really does change your life," said Upton.
So much so Carolyn decided to do a marathon, running on with confidence
"About mile 19 or so, I was like, I'm so glad I don't have to stop and go to the bathroom," she said.
Dr. Peters tells us that if incontinence is improved after one treatment but not gone, the cells could possibly be stored and re-injected into patients.
Future trials to test the non-invasive procedure are in the works and could happen within the next year.