You’ve seen the commercials. Women sporting the latest incontinence options while exercising, lifting, and squatting with a blissful smile plastered to their faces. If only real life were that easy. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is the most common type of urinary incontinence in women. While it’s helpful to have various options for managing this condition, it’s time to speak up about the truth of living with SUI.
Important Facts About SUI
Stress urinary incontinence is a pelvic floor disorder that causes urine leakage when physical activity that creates added pressure on the bladder. Leakage may be a small drop or two of urine or as much as a whole stream. These activities include:
Your bladder has two tight muscle bands (sphincters) that control urine flow into and out of it. SUI can happen when pelvic tissues and muscles, which support the bladder and urethra, become weak and prevent the urethra from working correctly to control the flow of urine. The urethra is a short tube located just above the vagina that allows the urine to pass from the bladder and out of the body. SUI can also occur when the sphincter muscle weakens and cannot stop the flow of urine under normal conditions or under pressure.
What Causes SUI?
Pregnancy and childbirth are among the top factors that cause loss of pelvic muscle tone. Other risk factors for SUI include:
- Hysterectomy (or any surgery affecting the pelvic floor)
- Nerve and muscle damage from childbirth or surgical trauma
- Chronic coughing from long term smoking and lung disease
- Anatomical predisposition
- Repeated heavy lifting or high impact sports
SUI Can be Treated, and November is the Perfect Time to Do it!
November is Bladder Health Awareness Month. During this month, efforts are focused on connecting, educating, and empowering individuals across the country to get the facts about common bladder health conditions. If you have SUI, now is the perfect time to take an active role in managing your bladder health! Take advantage of the resources available and help spread the word about bladder health this month. Check out additional resources here.
I think we can all agree any amount of leakage is unwanted. There are many treatment options as well as simple management techniques that can help improve symptoms. Lifestyle changes, such as reducing the amount of liquid you consume, limiting caffeine, stopping smoking, and weight loss, can help decrease the number of times you leak urine.
Other options include pelvic muscle exercises (Kegel exercises), physical therapy and biofeedback, or the use of a pessary. There is also an over-the-counter product that is inserted into the vagina like a tampon as another option. If further intervention is necessary, surgical options are available. Injections, pelvic floor surgery, and urethral slings are examples.
If you have stress urinary incontinence, clinical research studies looking into potential new options may help. To learn more about SUI studies enrolling here at Seattle Clinical Research Center, call (206) 522-3330 or visit our website today!