Managing Stress Urinary Incontinence

Talking about urinary incontinence, even with your doctor, can be awkward at any age. But according to the Urology Care Foundation, 1 in 3 women will experience stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in their lifetime, making it a very common health issue. It occurs when an activity, like laughing or coughing, causes urine to leak out. The amount of urine loss can be anything from a few drops to tablespoons or more.

It’s important to note that incontinence is not just a medical problem. It affects a woman’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Many women become afraid to participate in normal activities that might take them too far from a toilet. The good news is that most cases of SUI can be treated successfully.

The urologists of UCA are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment options for urinary incontinence in men and women. “The stress refers to any activity that results in an increase in abdominal pressure, which in turn exerts a stress on the bladder,” explains Dr. Gary Karlin with UCA Lawrenceville. “Mild SUI can be triggered by exercise or from sneezing, laughing, coughing or lifting. Moderate or severe SUI occurs with any type of small movement, such as standing up, walking or bending over.”

The Urology Care Foundation states that “SUI is more common among older women, but age and gender are not the only factors. Several factors contribute to SUI by stretching, weakening or damaging the pelvic floor muscles. Risk factors include:

  • Overweight/Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Chronic Coughing
  • Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Nerve Injuries to the Lower Back
  • Pelvic surgery

Urologists at UCA recommend several methods to diagnose SUI. “It’s helpful to keep details on your bladder activity (sort of a bladder diary) before your appointment,” explains Dr. Karlin. “This information can be helpful in determining why and when your leakage occurs and what you might be able to change in your everyday life to prevent it from happening in the future.”

Diagnosis of SUI begins with a thorough medical history. “Talking about your leakage problems can be embarrassing. But, providing more information will help to determine the cause of your leakage,” says Dr. Karlin.

In addition to a full medical history, the urologist will also conduct a physical exam, and conduct urodynamic tests (to determine at what stage of pressure your full bladder begins to leak and how your bladder empties).

Today, more than ever, help is available. SUI usually can be cured, treated, or managed so that bladder control problems don’t interfere with a healthy and active lifestyle. Take control of your health and speak with your personal physician today about SUI, or contact a UCA urologist to discuss your health concerns and possible treatment options.