What is Urinary Stress Incontinence?

| Posted On Sep 17, 2012 | By:

Urinary stress incontinence is defined as unintentional urine leakage caused by some kind of physical activity or movement, such as laughing, coughing, sneezing, exercising, or heavy lifting.  These movements place pressure or stress on the bladder and cause urine to leak out.  You may not experience incontinence every time you laugh or sneeze, for example, but any activity that increases pressure on your bladder, particularly when it is full, can cause the unintentional loss of urine.

Stress incontinence occurs because the muscles and fibrous tissue that support the bladder or control the release of urine may be weakened or function poorly. These tissues can lose their tone and strength due to a number of reasons, such as tissue or nerve damage incurred during childbirth, prostate surgery for men, obesity, diabetes, or lifestyle habits such as excessive smoking or alcohol consumption.

Treatment largely depends on the impact that stress incontinence is having on your lifestyle and your tolerance level for the problem. Some women may not be particularly bothered by it, while others feel embarrassed or uncomfortable and limit work and social life activities as a result, especially exercise and leisure activities. If you are troubled by stress incontinence, there are many treatment options that can help you manage this problem better and improve your overall quality of life.

In order to identify the best course of treatment for you, we typically conduct an initial evaluation, which usually includes a complete medical history, a physical evaluation, and a bladder symptom questionnaire.

In some cases, we will also obtain a bladder diary or perform a urodynamic exam during a second appointment. The urodynamic exam takes approximately 20 minutes and often helps us understand more precisely the cause of your bladder problem.

After your initial evaluation is complete, we will discuss with you the causes of your bladder problem and the best ways to treat it. Options for treatment may include some combination of the following:

Visit our website to learn more about the Urogynecology Department at Atrius Health.

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