Stress incontinence occurs when your bladder leaks urine during physical activity or exertion. It may happen when you cough, lift something heavy, or exercise.
Most adults can hold over 2 cups of urine in their bladder. Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles that control your urine flow don't work properly.
When either set of muscles become weak, urine can pass when pressure is placed on your bladder. You may notice it when you:
Weakened muscles may be caused by:
Stress incontinence is the most common type in women. Certain things increase your risk:
The main symptom of stress incontinence is leaking urine when you:
Your health care provider will perform a physical exam, including a:
In some women, a pelvic examination may show that the bladder or urethra is bulging into the vagina.
Tests may include:
Treatment depends on how your symptoms affect your life. Your health care provider may ask you to keep a urinary diary. You can record how many times you urinate during the day and night, and how often you leak urine.
There are four types of treatment for stress incontinence:
Making these changes may help:
PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLE TRAINING
There are different ways to strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor.
Medicines tend to work better if you have mild to moderate incontinence. Your doctor may prescribe one or more medicine.
If other treatments do not work, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery may help if you have severe incontinence. Most health care providers suggest surgery only after trying other treatments.
If you have trouble completely emptying your bladder, you may need to use a catheter. This is a very small tube you completely emptying your bladder, you may need to use a catheter. This is a very small tube you place in your urethra to drain urine from your bladder.
Getting better takes time, so try to be patient. Nonsurgical treatments usually improve symptoms. However, they will not cure stress incontinence. Surgery can cure some people with stress incontinence.
Treatment does not work as well if you have:
Physical complications are rare and usually mild, but they can include:
The condition may get in the way of social activities, careers, and relationships. It also may make you feel embarrassed or bad about yourself.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of stress incontinence and they bother you.
Doing Kegel exercises may help prevent symptoms. Women who are pregnant may want to do Kegels during and after pregnancy to help prevent incontinence.
Incontinence - stress
Deng DY. Urinary incontinence in women. Med Clin North Am. 2011;95:101-109.
Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: history, physical examination, and urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 3.
Resnnick NM. Incontinence. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 25.
Updated by: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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