The Most Common Type of Incontinence Experienced by Women

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in females is also known as effort incontinence. It is the loss of small amounts of urine associated with coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising or other movements including heavy lifting that increase intra-abdominal pressure and thus increased pressure on the bladder.
 Stress urinary incontinence is fundamentally caused by insufficient strength of the pelvic floor muscles. The urethra (tube connected to the bladder that carries urine out of the body) is supported by fascia (connective tissue) of the pelvic floor. If this support is inadequate, the urethra can move downward at times of increased abdominal pressure, allowing urine to pass involuntarily (similar to a weakened valve).

 Some common reasons for weakening pelvic floor muscles are vaginal childbirth delivery, menopause, obesity and smoking. Below is a simple anatomic illustration of stress incontinence:
 urinary_incontinence1 Bladder Leakage Due to Stress Urinary Incontinence In the U.S. alone, there are over 15 million women that suffer from SUI. Although SUI is a very common problem in females, it is NOT considered a natural part of aging. This is a condition that should be treated in order to maintain a high quality of life. If left untreated, urinary incontinence can lead to skin irritations and infections as well as repeat urinary tract infections (UTI).

 Interestingly, 90% of women suffering from SUI do NOT seek treatment due to embarrassment or erroneously believing that it is a life management issue with no effective therapy.

 There are currently no medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of SUI. Fortunately, there are available options specifically for women with SUI. Listed below from least invasive to most invasive are treatment options for stress urinary incontinence:

  • Diapers, pads, Kegel exercises, behavioral modification
  • Pessaries and plugs
  • Renessa treatment
  • Bulking Agents
  • Surgical procedure (bladder neck suspensions/’slings’)