Stress Incontinence

Stress Incontinence. A young red hair lady sitting at a desk and looking into the camera.

What is Stress Incontinence?

Stress incontinence is defined as an involuntary release of urine brought on by a physical action or movement. Stress incontinence, or stress urinary incontinence (SUI), sufferers will leak urine due to laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising, or lifting or moving objects.

Stress Incontinence. A young red hair lady sitting at a desk and looking into the camera.

Causes of Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is far more common in women than men. This is due to differences in urinary tract structure and other female-related occurrences, such as:

  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Menstruation

Factors that play a role in stress urinary incontinence in both men and women include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Diet
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Birth Defects
  • Stroke
  • Nerve Damage
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Treatment for Stress Incontinence

There are many ways to treat stress urinary incontinence. Physicians often encourage urinary incontinence patients to make simple lifestyle and behavioral changes. Stress incontinence patients are asked to cut back on or completely eliminate spicy foods, carbonated or caffeinated drinks, alcohol and smoking.

A common treatment for urinary stress incontinence for both men and women is pelvic floor exercises, otherwise known as “Kegels.” Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic region, including the bladder, bowels, and the uterus in women.

Kegels are performed by pretending to stop urine flow. The muscles of the pelvic floor will contract during the exercise. Kegels should be performed with such a lack of body motion that no one would even be able to tell that you are doing them. These exercises should be done daily, but talk with your doctor before beginning a kegel regimen for urinary stress incontinence.

When exercises and conservative treatments for urinary stress incontinence fail, surgery becomes an option. There are three procedures designed to treat urinary stress incontinence. All three surgeries are focused on keeping the bladder in place.

A sling procedure for stress incontinence involves placing a sling around the neck of the bladder and attaching it to the pubic bone. The sling is created out of human tissue or synthetic material.

During retropubic suspension surgery for stress urinary incontinence, a surgeon will attach the bladder neck to the pubic bone through an incision in the abdomen. The neck is attached using sutures.

An artificial sphincter procedure for stress incontinence involves placing a patient-controlled, fluid-filled cuff around the urethra. The artificial cuff acts as a valve to catch urine that could potentially escape.