US 3705575 A
An incontinence device for female use comprises a member adapted to apply pressure to the urethra, preferably from inside the vagina, so as to prevent the flow of urine therefrom. The device may include means for stimulating the muscle action of the tissue controlling the urethra so as to improve the natural urine retention of the wearer of the device.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Edwards [451 Dec. 12,1972
 INCONTINENCE DEVICE FOR FEMALE use  Inventor: Lynn Euryl Edwards, 18, Quadrant Grove, Kentish Town, London N.W. 5, England 221 Filed: Sept. 22, 1970 21 Appl.No.:74,350
 Foreign Application Priority Data Sept. 26, 1969 Great Britain ..47,S41/69 June 5, 1970 Great Britain ..27,195/70 52 US. Cl. ..;.12s/1 n  Int. Cl. ..A6lb 19/00  Field of Search ..l28/1R 127,128, 295, 303, i 128/346, 407, 408
V  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,339,208 9/1967 Marbach ..128/132 R X 2,649,086 8/1953 Sluijter ..128/1 R 3,554,184 1/1971 Habib ..128/1 R 3,080,865 3/1963 Vincent ..l28/98 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,145,749 3/1969 Great Britain ..128/407 Primary Examiner-Dalton L. Truluck Attorney-Michael S. Striker [571 ABSTRACT An incontinence device for female use comprises a member adapted to apply pressure to the urethra, preferably from inside the vagina, so as to prevent the flow of urine therefrom. The device may include means for stimulating the muscle action of the tissue controlling the urethra so as to improve the natural urine retention of the wearer of the device.
7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTED DEC 1 2 I972 SHEET 1 OF 2 IN VE NTOR 09AM cum/6 EM) BY A! UN ATTORNEY PATENTED DEC 12 I972 SHEET 2 [IF 2 m M Nazi. E VW/ w r 6 I ww i Y B ATTORNEY INCONTINENCE DEVICE FOR FEMALE USE This invention relates to an incontinence device for female use, hereinafter referred to simply as an incontinence device.
Hitherto known incontinence devices have comprised a urine-collecting vessel which is supported between the legs of the wearer by some form of body belt, the open end of this vessel being held in contact with the vulva. Such a device has many disadvantages. Thus it is difficult to maintain a water-tight joint between the vessel and the vulva, especially when the wearer is walking. The presence of the vessel between the legs of the wearer is a source of irritation and discomfort. Again, it is necessary to remove the vessel periodicallyto empty it, which is an objectionable task. Devices of this nature also tend to have an objectionable smell, however careful the wearer is with her personal hygiene.
An object of the present invention is to provide a completely new form of incontinence device which does not have the disadvantages outlined above.
According'to the invention an incontinence device comprises a member adapted to apply pressure to the urethra so as to prevent the flow of urine therefrom.
In one embodiment of the device according to the invention, said member is arranged to apply pressure to the urethra from inside the vagina, preferably in a region above the sensitive point of no return. The member may be secured to the free end of one limb of a spring clamp, the other limb being formed as a support which bears against the external pubic area of the lower abdomen of the wearer. The two limbs may be connected by a spring-like, preferably arcuate, member which, in use of the device, is positioned at least partly in the vulva between the labia. I
The device may be made from plastics material, which may be reinforced if necessary. Alternatively, it may be made from a non-corrodible metal or alloy, e.g. stainless steel.
A further embodiment of the device according to the invention incorporates means for stimulating the muscle action of the tissue controlling the urethra so as to improve the natural urine retention of the wearer of the device. Thus the embodiment of the device comprises a member adapted to apply pressure to the urethra from within the vagina, and electrode means for applying intermittent electric current impulses to the internal wall of the vagina in the region of the muscle tissue controlling the urethra.
The electrode means may comprise a pair of metal foil strips or a pair of small metal contacts mounted on the pressure applying member of the device, with at least a part of each strip or contact on the surface of the pressure-applying member which bears against the internal wall of the vagina.
Embodiments of incontinence devices in accordance with the invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawing, in which FIG. I is a side elevation of one embodiment of the device,
FIG. 2 is a front elevation of the device of FIG. 1,
FIG. 3 is a plan of the device of FIG. 1,
FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. I of a modified embodiment of the device, and
FIG. 5 is a front elevation of part of the device of FIG. 4.
The incontinence device shown in FIGS. 1 to 3 comprises two limbs generally designated by the reference numerals l and 2, these limbs being joined by an elongated arcuate member 3.
The second portions limb 1 consists of a triangular support 4 which is curved to bear snugly against the pubic area of the lower abdomen of the wearer.
The first portion or limb 2 consists of a tube 5 having a rectangular pad or pressure portion 6 at its free end. The pad 6 is curved with its convex surface 7 facing the support 4. This convex surface 7 is provided with shallow corrugations 8.
The tube 5 is connected to the support or engaging portion 4 by the arcuate member 3. Preferably, the arcuate member 3 is also formed from a length of tube, and in this case the parts 3 and 5 may be formed integrally with one another. The combined coupling portion 3 and 5 may be made of a resilient plastics material and including a reinforcing wire 9 passing through the tubular member. The ends of the wires 9 may project from the tubular member and be embedded in the pad 6 at one ,end and in the support 4 at the other end. In addition the pad 6 and the support 4 may be secured to the ends of the tubular member with an adhesive.
In use of the above described device, the limb 2 is inserted carefully into the vagina until the arcuate member 3 is located between the labia and the support 4 rests snugly against the external pubic area of the lower abdomen. By careful adjustment of the curvature of the arcuate member 3, the pad 6 can be made to exert sufficient pressure on the urethra, within the vagina, to prevent the flow of urine.
When it is desired to release urine from the bladder, the device may be removed or the curvature of the member 3 is temporarily changed to relieve the pressure of the pad 6 against the urethra.
In one embodiment of the device shown in the drawing, the support 4 and the pad 6 were made of a rigid plastics material, for example the material known under the Trade Mark Perspex. The arcuate member 3 and the tube 5 were formed as a single tubular member of polyvinyl chloride. The presence of the wires 9 in this tubular member imparted a springless thereto, but it was possible to bend the arcuate member so that the device could be adapted. for wear by users of different physical proportions.
FIGS. 4 and 5 show a modified form of the device of FIGS. 1 to 3, and the same reference numerals have been employed in FIGS. 4 and 5 as in FIGS. 1 to 3 to designate items in common to the two embodiments.
In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 two metal foil electrode strips 10 are secured in spaced relationship to the convex surface 7 of the pad 6 and are connected by insulated electric conductors 11 to a two-pin female electric socket 12 mounted on the support 4. The electric conductors may be attached to the outer surface of the tubular members 3 and 5, as shown, or may be accommodated in these members. In the latter case the conductors can also serve as the reinforcing wires 9.
The metal foil electrode strips ltl may be stuck to the surface 7 of the pad 6 or they may be moulded into the surface 7 at the time of manufacture of the pad 6. The
strips may be disposed parallel to the longitudinal axis of the pad 6, or substantially at right angles to this axis, as shown.
Alternatively, the electrode means may be in the form of wire wound around the pad 6, or a pair of metal contact buttons mounted on the surface 7 of the pad 6.
In use of the device of FIGS. 4 and 5 an intermittent current is fed to the socket 12 from a suitable power pack (not shown) carried by the wearer of the device, the output from the power pack being led via electric conductors to a two-pin plug which is engageable with the socket 12 on the support 4. A suitable power pack for the purpose has an output voltage of from 1 to 20 volts and delivers current pulses of approximately 1 millisecond duration at a frequency of approximately 20 pulses per second. Power packs of this nature are commonly employed in electronic stimulator units used for the control of incontinence of urine.
The invention is not, of course, limited to the particular embodiments described above with reference to the drawings. Thus, for example, it may be desirable in some cases to provide the pad 6 with a layer of soft material, or to make the entire pad of soft material, to guard against irritation in the vagina, particularly if the wearer has internal operation scars in the region where the pad 6 bears. Examples of suitable soft materials for this purpose are sponge rubber and expanded polystyrene.
What is claimed is:
l. A female incontinence device comprising a first portion having an end insertable intothe vagina and adapted to contact the urethra during use of the device; a second portion including an engaging portion adapted to bear against the external pubic area of the female body when said end of said first portion is positioned within the vagina, said engaging portion having a breadth greater than the breadth of the remainder of said second portion so as to correspond to said external pubic area; a coupling portion connecting said first and second portions and defining with said first and second portions a generally U-shaped structure, at least said coupling portion being resilient and urging said first and second portions towards each other whereby said first portion is biased against the urethra while said second portion bears against the external pubic area, said first and second portions converging in direction toward one another and spaced away from said coupling portion so that'said first portion tends to penetrate deeper into the vagina due to said bias and as a result of its inclination relative to said second portion, and said first, second and coupling portions constituting the sole means of support of the device on the female body.
2. A female incontinence device as defined in claim 1, wherein said second portion comprises an engaging portion adapted to bear against the external pubic area of the female body and comprising two supporting portions which diverge in direction away from said coupling portion in correspondence to the increase breadth of the external pubic area in direction away from the vagina, and which define between themselves a clearance for the pubic bone.
3. A device as defined in claim 1, wherein said coupling portion is positionable at least partly in the vulva between the labia, durin use of said device.
4. A device as defined in c arm 2, and wherein said engaging portion is of substantially triangular configuration.
5. A device as claimed in claim 1, comprising means for stimulating the muscle action of the tissue controlling the urethra so as to improve the natural urine retention of the wearer of the device.
6. A device as claimed in claim 5, in which said muscle-stimulating means comprises electrode means for applying intermittent electric current impulses to the internal wall of the vagina in the region of the muscle tissue controlling the urethra.
7. A device as claimed in claim 6, in which said electrode means comprises a pair of metal foil strips or a pair of small metal contacts mounted on said first portion of said device, with at least a part of each strip or contact on the surface of said first portion.