Definition/Symptoms of Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
It’s that little squirt of urine after you laugh or sneeze, or that warm gush when you cough or exercise. Often called “laugh, cough, sneeze” incontinence, stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is just that — stressful.
If you have SUI, you’re not alone. It’s the most common form of incontinence in women, affecting an estimated 15 million women in the U.S.1
Contrary to popular belief, SUI is not a normal part of aging. It’s a medical condition — and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to tell your doctor about it. If you have it, a combination of treatment approaches, from a simple exercise to lifestyles changes to surgery, can help.
Stress urinary incontinence is often caused by damage to or weakening of the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the bladder and urethra (the tube that brings urine from the bladder to outside the body). It can also be caused by weakness in the urethral sphincter, a ring of muscle around the urethra that keeps it closed until it’s time to urinate.2 Vaginal childbirth is a common culprit in both scenarios.
Other contributing factors include menopause, obesity, diabetes (which can damage the nerves that control the bladder), hysterectomy, smoking, chronic coughing, and constipation.
If you have SUI, anything that puts pressure on the bladder, including sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting a baby, or going for a jog, can trigger a leak. So can having sex.
Exercise your pelvic floor muscles. This simple move, known as a Kegel exercise (it’s named after the man who invented it), strengthens the muscles under your uterus and bladder to help prevent leaks. To do it, pretend you have to urinate, then pretend to “hold it” for a count of 10.3 Then relax for a count of 10. Do this 10 times, three to five times a day. (It’s best to do this exercise when your bladder is empty.) If you’re doing the exercise right, you should feel a slight upward pulling in your vagina and rectum.4 You should not contract your abdominal or gluteal (butt) muscles. In a month or two you should start to see your incontinence improve.5
Try biofeedback. This technique can help you learn to do Kegel exercises properly. Sensors are placed in or near your vagina and across your belly,6 and as you practice your Kegels a computer monitor shows you which…[sc:readmore link=”http://womenshealthfoundation.org/2013/09/22/stress-urinary-incontinence/” ]