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Stress Incontinence

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Let’s make it clear at the outset that stress incontinence has nothing to do with psychological stress. According to Mayoclinic, “Stress incontinence is the unintentional loss of urine prompted by a physical movement or activity — such as coughing, sneezing, running or heavy lifting”.


Symptoms of Stress Incontinence
  • Loss of control in the bladder on physical exertion
  • Involuntary urine squirting while changing body postures
  • Urine leakage during sexual stimulation


Causes of Stress Incontinence

Under normal circumstances, the sphincter muscle prevents urine from flowing out when the bladder is full. When these muscles weaken, they are not able to hold back urine even if the bladder is not full, thereby causing urine leakage on mild application of force on the pelvic muscles as well as the abdomen. 

Several circumstances contribute to losing bladder function and they are:
  • Chronic coughing and sneezing – long term illness
  • Overconsumption of alcohol and caffeine
  • Chain smoking
  • Childbirth
  • Prostrate surgery (in men)
  • Injury in the urethra
  • Medicines
  • Obesity


Diagnosis of Stress Incontinence

Your doctor will first check your medical history, evaluate the symptoms and then proceed to performing a physical exam of your genitals. Additionally your doctor may conduct a pelvic exam and urinary stress test. 

You may also need to undergo some special tests known as urodynamic tests, which include:
  • Cystoscopy: examination of the uretha and a bladder with a cystoscope
  • Cystometry- measuring the pressure of bladder
  • Measurement of post-void residual urine with the help of a catheter or ultrasound scan
  • Analysis of bladder function with video images
  • Urinalysis or urine culture to check for UTIs


How to prepare for the tests?

You need to see your doctor if you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above. There’s no as such preparations needed but you can to keep a note of when and how the symptoms appear, your daily fluid intake and your frequency of urination. 

Carry this note during your medical check up.


Treatment of Stress Incontinence
  • Behavioural and Lifestyle changes: Your doctor may schedule your toilet visits. This helps in consciously controlling urine squirts. Reduce intake of caffeine, alcohol or other fluids that irritate the bladder. As a part of the treatment you need to intake fluids as determined by your doctor. Eat fibrous foods to mitigate the tension on pelvic muscles.
  • Exercises: Losing weight helps to exercise better bladder control. Apart from this, your doctor will show you couple of pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the sphincter and improve efficiency of the bladder.
  • Devices: Special devices, known as urethral inserts and pressaries are inserted in the urethra to support the bladder and prevent leakage.
  • Surgery is the last option resorted when behavioral therapies and other means fail to bring about the desired improvement. Surgeries involve tightening and supporting muscles surrounding the bladder to improve bladder function.


Dealing with Stress Incontinence

It’s indeed embarrassing to suffer from stress incontinence. However, there are several ways to cope with the situation while simultaneously undergoing the treatment.

They are: 

  • Practise hygiene. Wear sanitary napkins to prevent wetting your undergarment. Always carry extra pads while travelling.
  • Use the toilet frequently to minimize involuntary leakage of urine.
  • Try to avoid jerky movements like running, laughing loud, rushing, etc. when you are have this condition.
  • Make sure your undergarment is always dry and clean. 

To end on a positive note, we say that stress incontinence is completely curable. However, make sure you get a check up without shy and hesitation. Lastly, follow your doctor’s advice to recover quickly.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: November 06, 2013