Frequently Asked Questions About SUI

Q: How do I know if I have stress urinary incontinence (SUI)?

A: If you leak urine involuntarily, either just a few drops or a tablespoon or more, you may have SUI. If your SUI is mild, you will experience light leakage during
vigorous activity, when you sneeze, cough, laugh or when you lift something heavy. With more severe SUI, you leak urine even during light activity such as
walking or standing up.

Q: Is SUI common in women?

A: Yes, SUI is the most common type of urinary incontinence in middle aged and older women. Approximately 1 in 3 women experience symptoms of stress incontinence at some point in their lives and even young women can experience urine leakage. 

Q: Is stress urinary incontinence (SUI) different than overactive bladder (OAB)?

A: Yes. SUI is involuntary leakage of urine often caused by rigorous activity or sneezing, laughing, coughing or heavy lifting. Overactive bladder or OAB (also
known as urge incontinence) is a strong, sudden urge to urinate at unexpected times. OAB can also be a frequent need to urinate and is often described as
that “gotta go now” feeling. 

Q: Should I feel embarrassed to talk to a doctor about my bladder control problem?

A: No! Bladder control problems such as SUI are very common in women, yet most women feel embarrassed and ashamed and put off addressing this medical condition with their doctor. Rest assured that the incontinence specialists at Chesapeake Urology understand how bladder control issues can affect your lifestyle and your confidence, and will help you understand that you are not alone. Our doctors are committed to helping restore you to your normal self.

Q:  Who else can I talk to about bladder control problems and treatment options?

A: Chesapeake Urology has a dedicated urinary incontinence patient navigator who works directly with incontinence patients even before they are diagnosed. She is a nurse practitioner who understands your condition and the treatment options available. Our patient navigator will listen to your concerns and help guide you through the process of geting help for your incontinence, from scheduling appointments, serving as a liaison between you and your doctor and following up after treatment to ensure successful outcomes. 

Q: What causes SUI?

A: There are a number of factors that can cause stress incontinence including: obesity, chronic cough (usually caused by smoking), pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, nerve injuries and/or pelvic surgery, and neurological conditions that damage nerves such as spinal cord injury.

Q: Can I expect bladder control problems as I get older?

A: While bladder control issues such as SUI are common in older women, they are also very common in younger women.

Q: Are there non-surgical treatments for SUI?

A: Yes. Your doctor will typically recommend first line therapies including physical therapy and lifestyle and behavioral modifications to minimize your SUI symptoms. These include: pelvic floor muscle exercises, weight loss and quitting smoking. Your doctor may also have you keep a bladder diary to track when leakage most often occurs.


Q: Can I take medication for my SUI?

A: There are currently no approved drugs in the U.S. to specifically treat SUI.


Q: Can surgery cure my SUI?

A: If physical therapy and behavioral and lifestyle changes do not alleviate the symptoms of SUI, your doctor may recommend one of several surgical procedures
including a urethral sling (the most common surgical intervention) and urethral bulking. You do not have to fail physical therapy, however, to have surgery for SUI.