Do you have urine leakage when you exercise?
Have you ever sneezed or laughed so hard that you leaked urine?
Do you have bladder control issues but are too embarrassed to talk to a doctor?
If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, you are not alone. You may have a common bladder control problem called Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). SUI is the involuntary loss or leakage of urine that occurs during physical activity such as exercise, laughing, coughing and sneezing. The “stress” is added pressure on your bladder. Women who have SUI have weak pelvic muscles that can allow urine to leak when a cough, sneeze or other action puts pressure on the bladder.
Pictured: A woman's normal bladder and pelvic area
Stress Urinary Incontinence is common in women
In fact, 1 in 3 adult women have stress urinary incontinence, which is the most common type of bladder control problem among women. SUI, however, is not just a normal part of aging and can affect women of all ages.
What Causes Stress Urinary Incontinence?
While stress urinary incontinence is more common as women age, it is not caused simply by aging. A number of factors influence SUI including:
- Pregnancy and childbirth, which can stretch, weaken or even damage pelvic floor muscles
- Neurological conditions that cause damage to the nerves including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida and spinal cord injuries
- Chronic cough, oftentimes caused by smoking
- Certain medications, excessive alcohol consumption and caffeine
- Menopause, due to decreased hormones
- Pelvic surgery or radiation treatment