Stress Urinary Incontinence

Stress incontinence is the unintentional release of urine during any physical activity that puts pressure (stress) on your bladder. Stress incontinence differs from urge incontinence, in that it happens when the body is under immediate physical stress whereas the latter is caused by the contraction of the bladder muscle. Physical activity or movement that can put stress on your bladder includes coughing, running, sneezing, laughing, heavy lifting, or bending over. Stress incontinence is more common in females than men. It can occur at any age.

What Causes Stress Incontinence?

Stress incontinence is caused when the pelvic muscles and other tissues that support the bladder and the muscles that that control the release of urine weaken.

Female urinary stress incontinence occurs when the pelvic floor muscles that control the release of urine and support your bladder weaken. These muscles can become weaker as you age. The muscles often lose their strength after menopause due to low levels of estrogen. While childbirth can weaken the muscles in women, in the case of men, prostate surgery is the most common reason for stress incontinence in men.

Other factors that can increase the risk of stress incontinence include:

  • Illnesses that cause chronic coughing or sneezing
  • Obesity
  • Smoking which can cause frequent coughing
  • Excess consumption of caffeine or alcohol
  • High-impact activities over many years
  • Hormonal deficiency

Symptoms

If you have stress incontinence, you may experience involuntary urine leakage when you:

  • Exercise
  • Engage in sexual intercourse
  • Sneeze
  • Cough
  • Stand up from a seated position
  • Laugh
  • Lift heavy objects something heavy

How Is Stress Urinary Incontinence Diagnosed?

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam. This will include: To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will perform a pelvic exam in women and genital exam in men in addition to one or more of the following tests:

Pad weight test:

During a pad test you will be asked to wear a sanitary pad during exercise to find out how much urine you are losing.

PVR Test:

Post-void residual (PVR) to measure much urine is left in your bladder after you urinate

Urinalysis:

Urinalysis to determine a urinary tract infection.

Urinary stress test

During a urinary stress test you will be asked to cough while you stand with a full bladder to check if you involuntarily leak urine.

X-rays with contrast dye enables your health care provider to look at abnormalities in your urinary tract.

How Is Stress Incontinence Treated?

There are several Treatment options for Stress Incontinence. There are mainly four types of treatment for stress incontinence: they include:

Lifestyle changes

  • Drink fewer fluids
  • Avoid running or jumping.
  • Losing excess weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid spicy foods, citrus and carbonated drinks.

Medications

Your healthcare provider may suggest medications that reduce bladder contractions.

Nonsurgical Treatments

  • Biofeedback
  • Kegel exercises
  • Vaginal cones
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy
  • Surgical:

    In the form of Suspensory tapes or Ligament Hitching Procedures.

    Prevention

    Doing Kegel exercises can be of importance to prevent symptoms especially for women who are pregnant.

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