Laughter is important in life but there are some people who think hard before laughing. The reason is that, at times, laughing can cause urine leakage in some. Stress urinary incontinence is a prevalent condition today. It not only prevents you from having complete control over your bladder, but also inhibits urinary control in certain situations.
Now, you must be wondering, what is stress urinary incontinence? Stress urinary incontinence can be embarrassing which can also lead to social isolation. When a person is suffering from stress urinary incontinence, any pressure applied on the bladder or abdomen can lead to loss of urine.
Here, the word “stress” is used to describe only physical stress. It usually refers to abnormal pressure on the bladder, and not emotional stress of any kind. Stress urinary incontinence should not be confused with an overactive bladder as it is a different disorder. You may see some cases where a person suffers from a combination of stress urinary incontinence and an overactive bladder. This is called “mixed incontinence”. In case you suffer from any symptom, your doctor will be able to distinguish if the cause is stress urinary incontinence or overactive bladder.
Causes of Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary causes are not many. It all comes down to muscle control. Your bladder is supported by a network of muscles. These include the sphincter, the tube which surrounds the urethra and expels urine from the body. The detrusor is another muscle in the bladder wall which allows the bladder to expand and shrink, as needed. Apart from this, the pelvic floor muscles also provide muscular support to the urethra and the bladder.
Being able to contract the sphincter muscle around the urethra is important to hold urine inside the bladder. If the pelvic and sphincter muscles get weak it becomes difficult to contract these muscles at will. These are the urinary stress incontinence causes.
Symptoms of Stress Urinary Incontinence
Loss of bladder control during any physical activity is the main symptom of urinary stress incontinence. Some people may experience a few drops leaking while others may experience involuntary large urine flow.
You can experience stress urinary incontinence when:
- Heavy lifting
- Sexual intercourse
At times, even standing up from a reclining or seated position can also cause the bladder to leak because of the additional pressure. The signs of stress urinary incontinence are different for different individuals.
Vulnerability to Stress Urinary Incontinence
You must have wondered, why do I have stress urinary incontinence? Well, the answer could be varied. According to research, women are twice more likely to suffer from stress urinary incontinence than men. Pregnancy and childbirth are the most common stress urinary incontinence causes in women. The reason is that the sphincter and pelvic muscles get overly stretched and weakened during pregnancy and vaginal childbirth.
Advancing age and chronic conditions like a chronic cough can also result in stress urinary incontinence. Besides this, a pelvic surgery can also result in development of this condition as a side effect in some people.
Treatment for Stress Urinary Incontinence
The specific cause of the problem determines the type of treatment for stress urinary incontinence. Your doctor will be able to develop a practical treatment plan based on medications and lifestyle changes.
Some common treatments for stress urinary incontinence include:
You can reduce the episodes of stress urinary incontinence by making changes in the way you live and your lifestyle. If you suffer from obesity, then you may need to lose weight. You should also try to avoid hard physical activities, such as jogging or jumping.
Besides this, nicotine is known to irritate the bladder and may result in developing incontinence. Hence, if you are a smoker you would be advised to quit. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is also advised to patients as these also act as bladder irritants. This condition may also cause you to cut back on your overall fluid intake too.
Pelvic muscle training
For the majority of women, pelvic muscle exercises can help solve stress urinary incontinence. Kegel exercises are most recommended to make the pelvic and sphincter muscles stronger. Once you know how to do Kegel exercises you can perform them anywhere and at any time.
Currently, there are no medicines effective against stress urinary incontinence. Some women may be prescribed oral and topical oestrogen supplements.
In case of severe incontinence the doctor recommends surgical treatment. There are several types of surgical procedures used to treat stress urinary incontinence. These mainly involve lifting the urethra and bladder along with making vaginal repairs. It is advisable to consult an experienced surgeon and find out if surgery is an option to treat your stress urinary incontinence problem.
The surgery also involves providing additional support to the urethra and the bladder. A sling surgery uses your own tissue to provide additional support to the urethra. This surgical procedure is more commonly performed on women than men.
Urologists, who specialise in the urinary tract, may also advise on injecting collagen directly into the supportive tissue surrounding the urethra. This way, your sphincter gets strengthened by putting more pressure on the urethra. Collagen injections are the least invasive surgical treatment for stress urinary incontinence.
There are several different ways to treat stress urinary incontinence. The proper treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the stress urinary incontinence causes. It is highly recommended to consult your doctor if you notice urine leakage while exercising, or even moving. This condition is effectively treated and can remove your inhibitions completely.