Stress Urinary Incontinence – Not a Laughing Matter
Stress Urinary Incontinence – Not a Laughing
This information was provided by Ethicon Women’s Health & Urology,
Division of Ethicon, Inc.
Urinary incontinence occurs when a woman leaks urine from her urethra- the tube
that carries urine from your bladder and out of your body.
If you've ever leaked urine when you laughed or sneezed, you may have chalked
it up as a simple accident, but for many women, bladder leaks are a surprisingly
Maybe you find that pressure from coughing, picking up something heavy or
exercising causes recurring urine leaks. Many women cope by wearing sanitary
napkins or dark clothing, planning trips around restroom facilities, even
sticking closer to home - anything to shield them from embarrassment.
You may be struggling with symptoms of a common condition called, urinary
incontinence but you're not alone. Forty-five percent of US women have some
degree of urinary incontinence1.
There are treatment options available that you may want to discuss with your
physician. You can also assess your symptoms and see what your body may be
trying to tell you. Click
here to answer a few questions about your condition and learn about
treatment options that may be right for you.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are 4 types of urinary incontinence that are most common in women:
- Stress urinary incontinence: The involuntary release or leakage of urine
during sudden movements like coughing, sneezing, laughing, and exercising.
- Urge Incontinence: The sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by
bladder leakage. You may feel like you never get to the bathroom fast enough,
or you may wake up several times a night with a strong urge to urinate.
- Mixed Incontinence: Occurs when women have symptoms of both stress and
- Overflow Incontinence: The bladder doesn’t completely empty due to
dysfunctional nerves or a blockage in the urethra that prevents urine flow.
One of the most common types of incontinence, stress urinary incontinence,
affects women of all ages. In fact, 1 in 3 women suffer from stress urinary
Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence is a common, treatable condition in which
sudden movements put stress on the bladder, causing urine to leak out
involuntarily. Stress urinary incontinence is one of the most common types of
urinary incontinence among women.
Because bladder leakage can be embarrassing, many women don’t talk about SUI
or realize how common it is.
You may have stress urinary incontinence if you’ve experienced involuntary
urine leakage while:
- Standing up or lying down
- Lifting something heavy
Causes of Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress rinary incontinence occurs when pelvic muscles supporting the bladder
and urethra have been damaged or weakened, so that they may not hold the urethra
in its correct position. Sudden movements from the diaphragm put stress on the
bladder, causing the urethra to lose its seal and allowing urine to leak out.
Factors that can lead to stress urinary incontinence include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Frequent heavy lifting
- Estrogen deficiency or menopause
Incontinence can also be a symptom of other pelvic health issues, like pelvic
organ prolapse, a condition in which organs in the pelvic region shift out of
their normal position. Click
here to learn more about pelvic organ prolapse.
Treatment Options for Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence is treatable at any age, but not all
approaches work for every person or for every type of incontinence. There are a
variety of treatment options, some of which may involve surgery.
Non-surgical Treatments for Stress Urinary Incontinence
- Behavioral/Muscle Therapy: Therapy often starts with Kegel
exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Depending on the
severity of your condition, however, Kegels may not bring sufficient relief.
- Biofeedback: In this method, the patient exercises the pelvic floor
muscles while connected to an electrical sensing device. The device provides
“feedback” to help you learn how to better control these muscles. Over time,
biofeedback can help you use your pelvic muscles to decrease sudden urges to
urinate and lessen certain types of pelvic pain.
- Electrical stimulation: This approach aids pelvic floor exercises
by isolating the muscles involved for extra stimulus.
- Medication: Some types of urinary incontinence, like urge
incontinence, can be treated with medications; however, there is currently no
medication approved to treat stress urinary incontinence in the US.
For women whose incontinence is caused by pelvic organ prolapse, a pessary
can be inserted into the vagina to support and reposition the pelvic area. This
small device can help relieve mild symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, including
incontinence. In some instances, a pessary may make urinary incontinence worse;
if this happens, see your doctor to discuss other treatment options.
Effective Surgical Options
While mild symptoms of incontinence may be treated using the methods
described above, women with more serious symptoms may respond best to a surgical
Today’s minimally invasive options mean you may be able to treat incontinence
with an outpatient operation. In one type of treatment, your surgeon inserts a
tape-like piece of mesh through very small incisions in the abdomen or vagina to
support the urethra. The mesh acts as a backboard to close the urethra when an
activity such as a cough or sneeze occurs. Click
here to learn more about this procedure to treat stress urinary
Patients with incontinence associated with pelvic organ prolapse may opt for a
pelvic floor repair procedure. During the procedure, the surgeon repositions the
prolapsed or “dropped” organs and secures them to the surrounding tissues and
ligaments, sometimes reinforced with a piece of soft mesh. Click
here to learn more about this procedure to treat pelvic organ prolapse.
Be sure to talk to a doctor about the treatment options that may be best for
here for a list of questions to ask your doctor about stress urinary
Before making a final decision about your treatment, review all your options
and consider getting a second opinion. Click
here to find a list of physicians in your area who may be able to help you.
Why keep planning your life around incontinence if you don't have to?
- Melville, JL, Katon W, Delaney K, Newton, K. Urinary incontinence in US
women. A population-based study. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:537-542.
For more on urinary incontinence in women, click this
Recommended keywords: urinary incontinence in women, urinary incontinence
treatment, urinary incontinence surgery, urinary incontinence after childbirth.
Page Created at 08-04-2010 - 09:05 PM, Last Modified 08-05-2010 - 10:30 AM
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