What Is Stress Urinary Incontinence and How Can You Treat It?

Are you afraid of experiencing an embarrassing leak each time you sneeze, cough, or even laugh? This condition, known as stress bladder incontinence, is very common, but there are plenty of treatment options that can allow those who suffer from it to live a normal life.

What is stress urinary incontinence, and how is it treated? Read on to learn more!

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI): The Basics

Let’s start with the basics—what is stress incontinence? This condition occurs in both men and women but is more common in females. It causes an involuntary loss of urine when the bladder is stressed due to physical activity. It affects close to 8 million women in the United States alone.

This condition is typically related to physical changes including:

  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Estrogen deficiency
  • Pelvic or gynecological surgery
  • Obesity
  • Chronic constipation

Each of these issues can lead to SSI due to the way they damage or weaken the pelvic muscles that support the urethra and bladder. Luckily, up to 80% of female pressure incontinence is treatable.

Treatment Options

There are several different options when it comes to treatment for incontinence in women. They range from simple exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to minimally invasive treatments and even surgery. Here’s a look at the most common options.

Pelvic Exercises

Many women hesitate to seek treatment until they experience an embarrassing situation in public. One of the reasons is that they fear undergoing intense treatment.

The good news is, you can start your own treatment plan at home to strengthen your pelvic muscles. Kegel exercises are easy to perform and are very effective.

Other exercises, like squats and bridges, can also engage your pelvic muscles and may help improve incontinence.

Behavioral Techniques

Bladder training is one successful behavioral technique that’s easy to practice at home. You can do this by trying to wait at least 10 minutes after you feel the urge to urinate. Keep practicing this until you’re able to wait at least 2.5 to 3.5 hours between trips to the bathroom.

You can also try double-voiding, which involves urinating, waiting a few minutes, and then attempting to urinate again. Another method is going to the bathroom every two to four hours regardless of whether you have the urge or not.  

Hormone Treatment

As estrogen levels decline, the urethra and vaginal tissue gets thinner. Hormone creams can help regulate hormone levels and thicken these tissues back to a healthy state. This reduces the chances that you’ll experience leakage.

Botox Injections

When incontinence is associated with an overactive bladder, botulinum toxin type A (Botox) injected into the bladder muscle may help. This is usually only prescribed if other medications have not been successful.

Bulking Material Injections

This treatment involves injecting a synthetic material into the tissue around the urethra. This helps to keep the urethra closed so that urine can’t easily leak out. Although it’s less invasive than many of the other options, it also tends to be less effective.

Patients who elect to try this instead of surgery should prepare themselves to undergo this treatment multiple times.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation is another effective and minimally invasive treatment option. It involves sending a mild electric current through the body and into the nerves in the pelvic muscles and lower back.

Generally, women have found that a 15-minute session twice a day for 12 weeks can help relieve their stress incontinence symptoms. This treatment can be done at home using a vaginal or anal electrode.

For severe incontinence or an overactive bladder that hasn’t responded to other treatment methods, doctors may recommend doing this treatment by placing electrodes under the skin in the low back or leg.

Medical Devices

Some women respond well to medical devices. A urethral insert is a small device that resembles a tampon. It’s inserted in the urethra to prevent leakage during specific activities (like playing tennis) and removed before you urinate.

Another option is a pessary, which is a stiff ring that’s inserted in the vagina and worn all day. This is most effective when incontinence is caused by a prolapse. It helps to prevent urinary leakage by holding up the bladder.

Surgical Options

There was a time when surgery as a treatment for incontinence was very invasive, painful, and required a long recovery time. However, new surgical treatments have developed in recent years that make surgery much less of a big deal.

Sling procedures use a mesh or other synthetic material to create a “sling” around your bladder neck and urethra. This helps relieve stress incontinence by keeping the urethra closed, particularly when you sneeze or cough.

One of the newest sling procedures uses a device called Gynecare TVT. It creates a “tension-free” solution that’s less likely to result in over-correcting. It’s inserted through an outpatient procedure that only takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Bladder neck suspension also supports the bladder neck and urethra. It’s done under general or spinal anesthesia suing an incision in your abdomen.

What Is Stress Urinary Incontinence? Now You Know!  

Now that you know the answer to the question “What is stress urinary incontinence?” you understand that it’s a treatable condition and nothing to be embarrassed about.

Learn more about what to expect during your first medical visit, then contact us to schedule an appointment. Don’t live with this condition any longer, we’re here to help!

Sudden Onset Urinary Incontinence: Causes and Treatment

Let’s face it, urinary incontinence is embarrassing to talk about. Knowing that every time you laugh, cough, sneeze, or exercise could cause you to start leaking urine before you reach the bathroom is something no one wants to face.

First off, know that you are not alone. Sudden onset urinary incontinence affects nearly one-third of the entire US population.

This common condition can be treated, but you need to take those first, hard steps and speak to your doctor. The sooner you do, the better chance you have in a successful treatment.

The problem is, how do you know what caused this sudden incontinence? Knowing what caused it will help both you and your doctor find the appropriate treatment for it.

Thankfully, we have detailed information on how you can discover what caused your sudden onset urinary incontinence, and information on what types of treatment are available.

Keep on reading to learn more.

What Is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is when your bladder contracts when it shouldn’t. This results in a sudden urge to urinate, and unfortunately, urine begins to leak out of the urethral sphincter, which are the muscles responsible for keeping your bladder shut.

In worst cases, you can have complete loss over the control of your bladder, causing you to need to wear disposable incontinence briefs.

It is important to recognize that sudden onset urinary incontinence is not a disease, it is a condition that is caused by underlying medical issues, lifestyle, or other physical problems.

The Different Types of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is an umbrella term for numerous different symptoms of leaking urine. The main types are:

  • Urge incontinence
  • Overactive bladder
  • Irritable bladder
  • Detrusor instability
  • Spasmodic bladder
  • Bladder spasms

These symptoms can range from a small dribble whenever you sneeze, to full emptying of the bladder without control.

Unfortunately, women are at a higher risk of developing urinary incontinence due to pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence?

There are many different causes of urinary incontinence. It is important to check within yourself to see what could be the cause because this will help the doctor assess which form of treatment is best.

There are both medical reasons and lifestyle reasons that can lead to sudden onset urinary incontinence.

Medical Reasons

Potential medical causes of urinary incontinence include:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Bladder infection
  • Bladder stones
  • Obstruction in the opening of the bladder/sphincter
  • Bladder inflammation
  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Constipation
  • Nervous system diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
  • Trauma to the spinal cord, leading to paralysis of the bladder
  • Stroke

It is important to consult with a doctor immediately if your incontinence is in combination with pain or a burning sensation while you urinate, pain in the pelvic region, or interference with your daily activities.

Lifestyle Reasons

There are many lifestyle reasons that could cause a bladder to become weak, knowing what is causing it will help you to either stop it or prevent it from getting worse.

Heavy Lifting/HIIT exercise

Exercises like Crossfit, intense heavy lifting, or jumping up and down can cause a lot of pressure on the urethra.

Age

As we age, our muscles become weaker, including the sphincter muscles that control the urge to urinate.

Smoking

Smoking causes a consistent cough in most people, which can lead to a weakening of the bladder muscles. This includes any other cause of chronic coughing or sneezing.

Obesity

Being overweight pushes a lot of pressure on the urethral sphincter, which leads to an inability to control the weakened muscles.

Pregnancy and Childbirth

During pregnancy, the child and hormones can place tremendous pressure on the uterus and bladder. Pushing a baby during vaginal delivery can tear the surrounding tissues, causing incontinence.

Hormonal Deficiency

A lack of estrogen can cause the muscles around the bladder to become weakened. This is why menopause causes incontinence, due to the lower amounts of estrogen in the body.

Hysterectomy

Any operation around the vaginal or abdominal area could lead to urinary incontinence.

Diet

A poor diet could lead to constipation, which is another cause of incontinence.

Treatments For Urinary Incontinence

Treatments for urinary incontinence are most effective when the cause is determined.

Lifestyle Modification

If the incontinence is due to poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor diet, or obesity, then the cause of action would be to eliminate those causes.

Cutting or slowing down on fluid intake could also help to reduce incontinence.

Kegels

If the cause is due to a weakened bladder, certain exercises such as Kegels can help you to strengthen the muscles surrounding the bladder. This involves contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles.

Urethral Inserts Or a Pessary

A pessary is a device that rests underneath the urethra in the vagina and helps to support the bladder. This is most effective when worn during activities.

Botox

Injecting Botox into an overactive or incontinent bladder will help to relax enough to get back to regular urinating.

Urethral Inserts

Urethral inserts are small, tampon-like devices to insert into the urethra before triggering activity.

Nerve Stimulators

Nerve stimulators are little tiny devices similar to a pacemaker. These permanent devices are inserted in your abdomen, under the skin with a wire attached to the sacral nerve.

This sends light impulses into the nerve and helps to control the function of your bladder.

Surgery

At the last resort, there is the consideration of surgery. This surgical procedure includes inserting a sling that is made out of mesh or human tissue, supporting the urethra and the bladder.

The recovery from this surgery is between two to four weeks and has a very high success rate.

Learn More About Sudden Onset Urinary Incontinence

Dealing with sudden onset urinary incontinence is difficult, but it does not have to be forever.

The sooner you make an appointment to discuss this with your doctor, the sooner you can go back to living your life without worry.

To learn more about what treatments are best for you, contact us and schedule a consultation.

The Need to Pee: What Causes Stress Urinary Incontinence?


Why Women Are More Likely to Suffer from Stress Urinary Incontinence

Stress urinary incontinence is the most common form of incontinence in women under 60. Here’s what it is and what causes your need to pee.


Stress urinary incontinence

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) affects between 4% – 45% of women in the United States.

This condition affects both genders–but women are more likely to have it.

SUI is the most common type of incontinence in women under 60. Want to learn more about SUI, what causes it, and treatment options? Keep reading to learn about this condition.

What Is Stress Urinary Incontinence?

SUI is the accidental loss of urine. It happens from physical stress on the body such as sneezing, coughing, or working out.

To understand why it happens, it helps to learn about the way our body works. Our bladder stores urine. The muscles in our bladder contact when its ready to empty.

The urine goes out through the urethra which is a tube. Our sphincter muscles keep that tube closed until we’re ready to empty the bladder.

When we’re ready to go to the bathroom, the sphincter muscle relaxes and allows the urine to exit. With SUI, the stress on the body forces the sphincter muscles to relax and open–resulting in unintentional urination.

Symptoms of Stress Urinary Incontinence

Do you think you have SUI? If you have this condition, you may involuntarily leak from the following actions:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Laughing
  • Running
  • Lifting objects
  • Sex
  • Standing up

However, you may not leak every time you perform one of these actions. It depends on whether or not your bladder is full.

For mild cases of SUI, you may leak just a couple of drops of urine. In severe cases, you might end up urinating all over your clothes.

SUI can have embarrassing side effects that may force you to avoid social interactions. You might avoid working out, especially in public. You might also avoid major social events.

Causes

Here are some of the factors that can contribute to SUI.

Pregnancy and Birth

Women are more likely to experience SUI because it can be caused by pregnancy and childbirth. Your pelvic floor muscles can be weakened or damaged during childbirth. Women who give birth vaginally are more likely to experience SUI than those who have c-sections.

Pelvic Surgery

SUI can occur from any damage to the pelvic floor. This includes pelvic surgery, nerve damage, or chronic coughing.

Women who have had a hysterectomy may be at risk for SUI.

For men, the most common cause is from prostate surgery. The sphincter is located below the prostate gland. When the prostate gland is removed, the damage can weaken the sphincter muscles.

Additional Risk Factors

There are additional risk factors for SUI. You can have weakened muscle tone over time due to aging.

You may also be at risk if you participate in high impact sports or repeated heavy lifting.

Other risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Menopause
  • Diseases that result in chronic coughing

Treatment

Fortunately, there are treatment options for stress incontinence.

Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor may recommend lifestyle and behavioral changes that can decrease the severity of your SUI.

Kegels

By strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, you can treat SUI. Kegel exercises can strengthen the muscles around your bladder. They are easy to do and can be done at any time.

To do a Kegel exercise, hold the muscles that start the flow of urine. When you’re using the bathroom, these are the muscles that start and stop urination. Tighten these muscles for about 3 seconds, then relax them for another 3 seconds.

Do these exercises 10 times in a row, and repeat the set three times a day. When you do Kegels, make sure to only tighten your pelvic floor muscles, not your stomach or thighs.

If you maintain these exercises, you may see results in a few weeks or months.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight can put you at a higher risk for stress incontinence. This is because the extra weight puts more pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor muscles.

Losing weight can help with your SUI issues. You can start small and switch out sugary drinks with water and processed snacks with fresh fruit and veggies. You can also incorporate a walk into your daily routine.

Try Yoga

Yoga can help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. It’s also great for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Quit Smoking

Yet another reason to quit. Quitting smoking can help improve your overall health and decrease your incontinence problems.

Products and Devices

There are also products and devices designed to help treat SUI.

There are absorbent inserts, pads, and undergarments that you can wear to keep you dry. This can be helpful and even life-changing for people who have severe SUI. You can use these products as you seek different treatment options.

Absorbent products can make it so that you regain the confidence to join social events without having to worry about accidents.

There are external urinary devices that you can use such as urethral inserts or pessaries.

You can discuss with your doctor and see which treatment options are right for you.

Surgery

As a last resort, there is the option of surgery. The common procedure for incontinence is called sling surgery. This is when the surgeon creates a sling to support the urethra and bladder.

There are also noninvasive options you can consider such as injectable bulking agents. This is when your doctor injects synthetic gels around the urethra.

Dealing with Stress Urinary Incontinence

Stress urinary incontinence can be a stressful condition–but it doesn’t have to be.

There are a variety of treatment and noninvasive options you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and combat the problem.

Want to learn more about treatment options for SUI and other pelvic health issues? Contact us to schedule an initial consultation.

 

Top 10 Tips to Manage Stress Incontinence

 

Managing Stress Incontinence

Are you dealing with incontinence due to stress? This can be particularly burdensome on your day to day life. Read on to discover ten tips to help manage stress incontinence.

Stress incontinence

If you struggle with incontinence, you aren’t alone. It’s estimated that 33 million women and men in the United States deal with some form of incontinence.

Stress incontinence tends to affect women more, especially women that have been pregnant or have had children.

Managing stress incontinence can seem impossible, but with the right tips and techniques you can help alleviate some of your symptoms.

Curious about how? Read on to learn how to properly manage your stress incontinence.

10 Tips For Managing Stress Incontinence

Before we get started, it’s important to note that you should always speak with a doctor if you feel that you’re experiencing stress incontinence.

A doctor can ensure that the stress incontinence isn’t a sign of a more serious health problem. They can also recommend procedures that could improve your incontinence problems.

These tips can’t cure stress incontinence, but it can help reduce your frequency to go or help prevent leaks. If you’re ready to get your stress incontinence under control, make sure you follow these tips.

1. Have An Emergency Kit

Feeling stressed about your incontinence problems can make your symptoms worse. You may find that having an emergency kit can help you feel less anxious when you’re out.

Pack a spare set of absorbent underwear and a plastic bag in case of an emergency. You may also want to consider bringing a spare pair of pants.

For bonus assurance, try to wear darker colors when you’re out. They’ll be able to reduce the visibility of potential leaks.

2. Stop Smoking

Stopping smoking can improve almost any health problem, and it can help treat your incontinence problems.

Coughing can put unnecessary stress on pelvic floor muscles, and the extra pressure could make accidents more likely.

3. Balance Fluid Intake

Some people with stress incontinence problems may try to drink less fluids to help their problem. But depriving yourself of important fluids could make your bladder problems worse.

If you end up dehydrating yourself, urine gets more concentrated. The highly concentrated urine could end up irritating your bladder and increase your urgency to go.

Still be sure to drink plenty of water, but time it right. Try not to drink a lot of fluids before bed or when you’re about to go out.

4. Schedule Bathroom Breaks

If you find yourself running to the bathroom at inconvenient times, try setting up a schedule for yourself.

Think about when you’re free during the day, and when you’re most likely to use the bathroom.

Some find that it’s easier to plan bathroom breaks around their work schedule. Lunchtime, break times, and down times between meetings are great times to use the bathroom.

5. Start Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises

One of the common causes of stress incontinence are weak pelvic floor muscles. Weak muscles can’t properly tense enough to hold in urine.

Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen important muscles that support the uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum.

The best part about these exercises is that they require no equipment, and can be done at almost any time! The exercises are easy to do, and you can start to see results fast.

6. Do The Right Exercises

We did just spend some time on pelvic floor exercises, but that isn’t the only kind of exercise that can affect your stress incontinence.

High-impact exercise can put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles and can increase leakage. Sit-ups can also make you leak by straining your pelvic floor muscles.

Look for exercises that are easy on muscle groups. Consider swimming or pilates if you like to exercise.

7. Lose Weight

Like with smoking, a lot of medical problems can be helped by losing weight.

Extra fat tissue can put extra pressure on your bladder and can increase the urgency to urinate. The extra pressure can also weaken important pelvic floor muscles.

Talk to your doctor about getting on a weight-loss routine with a focus on low-impact exercise.

8. Avoid Caffeine

You may live for your morning cup of coffee, but if you want to treat your stress incontinence, you may want to find another way to start your day.

Caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it can increase the need to use the bathroom. Drinking too much caffeine could irritate your bladder and cause you to use the bathroom more than needed.

Be sure to read product labels carefully. Caffeine can show up certain teas, sodas, and other popular drinks.

9. Avoid Alcohol

If you want to alleviate some of your incontinence symptoms, you may want to consider cutting alcohol out of your diet.

Like caffeine, alcohol is a diuretic and makes you urinate more frequently. Drinking too much alcohol could also make you less “aware” and increase your risk of having an accident.

10. Cut Out Troublesome Food

Some of your favorite foods could be making your incontinence problems worse.

Acidic and spicy food can irritate your bladder and cause you to urinate more. You don’t have to cut these foods out of your diet completely, but you should eat them sparingly.

Also be sure to eat healthy in general. Your body needs the right fuel to properly function, and making sure you’re eating a balance diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals can always help your health.

Bonus: Talk About It

One of the most difficult aspects of stress incontinence has little to do with the bathroom. Many women find the condition difficult to deal with because they’re worried about how other people may view them.

Talk to your friends and loved ones about your condition. Let them know that you’ll need extra bathroom breaks and their support.

If you’re concerned about work, bring up your thoughts with HR. They may be able to speak with your boss about your condition on your behalf, or help you get extra bathroom breaks.

Next Steps

Now that you know how to manage stress incontinence, it’s time to focus on other aspects of your health.

Have you been experiencing vaginal dryness? Follow our tips on how to treat dryness and learn what treatment options are available.

And remember, we’re always here to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to contact us so we can help you.