Stress urinary incontinence (SUI for short) is a condition when you experience unexpected urine discharge as a result of stressful (and in more severe cases, less stressful) activities. If you or a loved one suffer from this condition, know that you are not alone. Around 15 million adult females in the United States have stress urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence, therefore, is very common and is nothing to be ashamed of. This article aims to educate you on SUI or stress urine incontinence, the types of stress incontinence, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and possible treatment.

Always consult a trusted healthcare professional before you attempt to self-diagnose and self-medicate. Specialists such as Dr. David Adler can help you identify any underlying causes and treat symptoms most effectively.

So, what is stress urine incontinence? Are there different types of stress incontinence I should be aware of? Find out all of this and more below.

What is Stress Urine Incontinence?

The Young Woman Pressed Her Hands to Her Lower Abdomen.

In brief, SUI or stress urinary incontinence is a condition when the patient’s urine leaks out with pressure on the urethra and bladder. This causes the sphincter muscles (muscles that help open and close certain parts of your body) to open momentarily. 

With milder cases of SUI, the pressure may happen as a result of forceful activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. However, patients with severe SUI may experience urine leakage even during less forceful activities such as bending over.

After some of these “accidents,” patients can expect urine discharge ranging from a couple of urine drops to soaking through clothes.

Although both men and women are at risk of this bladder problem, stress urine incontinence is more common in women. A similar bladder issue is OAB or Overactive Bladder. People with this condition sense an urgent feeling of urinating out of their control. Some individuals with this condition may leak urine when they feel a sudden urge. 

A lot of patients with SUI also have an overactive bladder. When a patient is diagnosed with both types of stress incontinence, they have “Mixed Incontinence.”

Overall, there are five types of stress incontinence. These include:

  • Overactive Bladder
  • Overflow Incontinence
  • Functional Incontinence
  • Mixed Incontinence
  • Reflex Incontinence

Overflow incontinence is the condition when something is blocking the normal flow of urine from the bladder (such as enlarged prostate). This means that the bladder completely fills up and opens the patient’s urethra, allowing for urine leakage.

Functional incontinence is when the urinary tract is functional, but a disability or illness prevents you from adequately relieving your bladder. For example, mental illness and medications can hinder you.

Finally, Reflex incontinence happens when the patient’s bladder muscles contract suddenly (typically due to nerve damage).

Common Symptom of SUI

Stress incontinence has one key symptom, urine discharge. When you experience urine leaks during an activity that boosts abdominal pressure, you may have SUI. Patients can expect anywhere from a few drops to soaking clothes. 

Typically, people with milder cases of stress incontinence will notice urine discharge during activities such as working out, coughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy weights. However, as mentioned, more severe cases of stress incontinence involve urine discharge even when bending over or standing up.

The severity of symptoms will vary from one person to the next. Take care of yourself and book an appointment at a reliable clinic for diagnosis and treatment. We recommend seeking an OBGYN Specialist in Palm Beach, as the results are guaranteed.

That being said, there are many ways stress incontinence can make your life challenging. For example:

  • You may stop doing your everyday activities outside of the home
  • You may be scared of being too far from a bathroom
  • You may need to change your clothes all the time
  • You may feel crippled by the fear of sudden leaks
  • It may affect your relationship with your partner and friends
  • It might lower your self-esteem

What are the Common Causes of Stress Urine Incontinence?

There are a few things that can cause SUI. For instance, the most common causes include pregnancy and childbirth. Namely, SUI happens when the pelvic floor (the support for the urethra and bladder) becomes damaged, weakened, or stretched. Other causes for SUI include:

  • Nerve injuries.
  • Chronic coughing.
  • Pelvic or lower back surgeries.
  • Surgery for prostate cancer (in men).

Here are some common risk factors for SUI:

  • Women are more likely to get stress incontinence
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Nerve injuries
  • Prostate or pelvic surgery

Getting Diagnosed for SUI

Your first step in SUI diagnosis is having an honest conversation with your healthcare provider. Ensure your doctor about all of your symptoms and your concerns. If needed, your primary care provider will refer you to a gynecologist or urologist for further treatment. Remember always to speak freely and to ask a lot of questions. Your healthcare provider will give you the most accurate diagnosis and offer you the best possible treatment options. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and your previous medical history. So, keep track of your past and present health, the timing, frequency, and severity of symptoms, whether you experience any pain, your diet, and any past surgeries. Your doctor may also inquire about prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

When your doctor has collected all the necessary information, you will move on to a physical exam. The professional will check your abdomen, the pelvic organs, and the rectum. Men can also expect a prostate, rectum, and genitalia check-up. The doctor may also want to test the strength of the sphincter muscles and pelvic floor muscles by asking you to do a Kegel test.

Diagnosis may also include a urinary pad test, either a 24-hour or one-hour test. The latter is typically performed in the doctor’s office. By doing these tests, your doctor will determine the severity of the leakage.

Alternatively, your doctor may recommend other forms of testing (especially if there is not enough information for precise diagnosis). These include: 

  • A bladder scan
  • Urine sample or urinalysis
  • Urodynamic studies or UDS
  • Cystoscopy

Possible Treatment Methods

Unfortunately, no medications are approved in the United States for SUI treatment. However, if you have mixed incontinence or OAB, your healthcare provider might prescribe Overactive Bladder treatments or medicines. Although these are helpful for OAB treatment, they are not helpful for SUI.

On the bright side, patients with SUI have nonsurgical and surgical treatment options. Nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Kegel exercises
  • Transurethral bulking agents (collagen injections)
  • Behavioral change (avoid urine leakage triggering activities)
  • Pessary (a removable device for women)

Kegel exercises are beneficial for pelvic floor strengthening. You can do these exercises anywhere, anytime, by contracting and relaxing the muscles around the rectum, vagina, and urethra opening.

On the other hand, women can opt for surgical procedures to prevent or decrease urine leakage. The surgeon will support the bladder neck or the urethra with tissue from another body part or with stitches. The second option is installing a mesh sling to support the bladder neck or urethra. This second surgical treatment is called a “sling procedure.”

Give us a Call Today

If you are experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms, give us a call now. It’s high time you turn your life around and live more freely. We guarantee the best treatment options to help you feel like a Queen or King again.