Stress Urinary Incontinence

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

normal bladder

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
  • Obesity
  • Chronic cough, oftentimes caused by smoking
  • Certain medications, excessive alcohol consumption and caffeine
  • Menopause, due to decreased hormones
  • Pelvic surgery or radiation treatment 

Symptoms of Stress Urinary Incontinence

Common symptoms of SUI in women include:
  • Urine leaks when you cough, laugh, sneeze, exercise, lift heavy objects, etc.
  • Urine leakage worsens when your bladder is full


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact a Chesapeake Urology incontinence specialist who understands your condition and the treatments available to help get you back to feeling like yourself again. 

Learn more about diagnosis and treatment of SUI in women. 

Download Chesapeake Urology's stress incontinence patient brochure here.