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Stress Urinary Incontinence: Causes, Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatment

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What is Stress Urinary Incontinence? San Pablo Commercial SPC

What is Stress Urinary Incontinence?  

Stress incontinence is when urine leaks out due to physical pressure on the bladder. This occurs when the pelvic floor muscles, the urethral sphincter, or both of these muscle structures have been weakened or damaged. The loss of pelvic support results in the inability to control the leakage of urine. 

Stress Incontinence Symptoms 

If urine leaks out when you jump, cough, laugh, run, walk, bend over, or do any physical exertion that increases abdominal pressure on the bladder, you may have stress incontinence. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is best to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

What Causes Stress Incontinence? 

Stress incontinence can develop after childbirth, prostate surgery, or injury to the urethral area and pelvic floor muscles. Other medical conditions such as obesity, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson‘s disease, or spinal cord injuries can also cause stress incontinence. Women may experience stress incontinence during menopause or after a hysterectomy. 

A common misconception is that stress incontinence is based on emotionally distressing events. Leakage occurs even though the bladder muscles are not contracting and you don't feel the urge to urinate. In more severe cases, the pressure on a full bladder overwhelms the body's ability to hold in urine resulting in more leakage.

Diagnosis of Stress Incontinence 

In order to diagnose stress incontinence, a physical exam will need to be performed by your doctor. Some physicals will include a genital exam for men, a pelvic exam for women, and/or a rectal exam. Other tests may include:

  • urine samples for a urinalysis to check for a urinary tract infection (UTI), 
  • urinary stress test (standing upright with a full bladder and then coughing), 
  • post-void residual test to measure the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination, 
  • a cystoscopy to look inside the bladder, pelvic or abdominal ultrasound, tests to measure pressure and urine flow, and/or an x-ray to look at the bladder and kidneys. There are many ways to test and monitor urinary symptoms to properly diagnose the type of incontinence you may have. 

The following health factors may make your stress incontinence worse:

  • urinary tract infections (UTIs),
  • obesity and sedentary lifestyle,
  • frequent coughing,
  • smoking,
  • medications that increase urine production,
  • nerve damage, or 
  • excessive urination from diabetes.

Types of Stress Urinary Incontinence

Different subtypes of stress incontinence include urethral hypermobility and intrinsic sphincter deficiency. 

Urethral Hypermobility

In urethral hypermobility, the bladder and urethra physically shift downward when abdominal pressure is applied to the lower torso. There is no hammock-like support for the urethra which causes a small opening, resulting in loss of urine when pressure is exerted.

Intrinsic Sphincter Deficiency

Intrinsic sphincter deficiency occurs when the urinary sphincter does not fully close or pops open under pressure. This is common in women who have delivered a baby vaginally, resulting in possible damage to the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding nerves.

Stress Incontinence Treatment

Several types of treatment are available for stress incontinence. A natural way to strengthen pelvic floor muscles is doing kegel exercises. Other treatment options include lifestyle changes, medications, and nonsurgical treatments. In more severe cases, surgery will be required to correct the urethra and pelvic floor.

San Pablo Commercial is a family-owned, small business with a mission to deliver affordable medical supplies to their customers. We offer a variety of incontinence products including SPC underpads, adult diapers, disposable bed pads for incontinence, incontinence briefs, and more. SPC disposable quilted underpads are also available on Amazon. We care deeply about our customers and want to make ordering incontinence supplies easier so that they can spend less time cleaning up spills and messes.



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