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Stress Urinary Incontinence Isn’t a Laughing Matter

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Jun 29, 2017

It can be very embarrassing.

You are with friends during your girls night out, and someone tells a funny joke. You laugh, and you accidentally urinate. And it’s not the first time this has happened.

The condition is called Stress Urinary Incontinence and it’s common. Laughing, sneezing, coughing, crying or lifting can cause the unintended release of urine. Even if you experience SUI just a little, you are not alone -- 1 in 3 women will experience it in their lifetime.

The emotional fallout from Stress Urinary Incontinence can be worse than the medical condition. You can become afraid to venture out with your family and friends, feel the need to wear adult diapers or not be too far away from a toilet.


What Happens

SUI happens after pelvic muscles supporting the bladder and urethra have been damaged or become weakened. Stress from an activity strains the bladder, which is unable to control the outflow of urine.

Older women tend to experience the issue. However, many cases among younger women also have been diagnosed.

What Causes SUI

Generally, the pelvic muscles become weaker because of:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Smoking
  • Injury to the lower back
  • Chronic coughing
  • Pelvic or gynecologic surgery
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Chronic constipation

How It Is Treated

Fortunately, as many as 80 percent of SUI cases can be successfully treated. Options, according to UrologyHealth.org, include:

  • Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
  • Electrical stimulation to help return injured muscles to fitness, and biofeedback to record progress in strengthening treatments and exercises.
  • Medical devices that block or capture urine.
  • Hormone cream to restore the tissue of the vagina and urethra to their normal thickness (the thinner the tissue gets, as estrogen levels decline, the more chance there is for leakage).
  • Surgery to repair or lift the urethra or bladder neck to provide support during straining or sudden movement.

Surgery to treat SUI used to be more invasive and painful - requiring a lengthy recuperation. A minimally invasive procedure that has been offered for the past several years, however, is proving very successful.

During a sling procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision in the vagina. The sling is then inserted under the urethra. This surgery can be done in about 30 minutes without a large incision. Recovery from sling surgery is shorter than other options.

There are currently no drugs approved in the U.S. to treat SUI, according to the Urinary Care Foundation. Sometimes if you have SUI and OAB (Mixed Incontinence), your health care provider may prescribe OAB drugs. These drugs may help reduce leaks for an overactive bladder. 

Most importantly, you should not confine yourself and avoid enjoying life because of your SUI. Talking to a women’s health specialist can help you deal with the condition and bring back your hearty laugh.

For more information about Stress Urinary Incontinence, contact the Johnson Memorial Women’s Health Specialists in Franklin at 317.738.0630 or Whiteland at 317.530.3111. 

Topics: Women's Health