We all deal with stress in our daily life. Stress incontinence is when we lose control over our urine release during times of physical movement or activity such as when we walk, lift heavy items, cough, sneeze or laugh.
Stress incontinence is not related at all to stress one feels that is of a psychological nature. Stress incontinence occurs more often in women than it does in men. Having incontinence can change your lifestyle by limiting your work or social life due to feelings of embarrassment or isolation.
Symptoms of stress incontinence:
You may notice that you leak urine when you walk, laugh, cough, sneeze, stand up, exercise or lift something heavy.
Urine may not leak every time you do these activities and you may have leakage during one or more of these activities but not all of them. You may experience it more often when your bladder is full.
Causes of stress incontinence:
You will experience stress incontinence if you have a dysfunction in the mechanisms that make up the control function of the release of urine from your bladder.
The pelvic floor muscles, the sphincter or both have poor function, which the results are incontinence. This can occur when you have experienced childbirth or have prostate surgery. Tissue or nerve damage can happen during the delivery of a baby.
You may notice the incontinence soon after the birth or it may not occur until years later. If men have had their prostate gland removed they may notice incontinence because of the lack of support with the gland being removed.
Other contributing factors for stress incontinence:
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Chronic coughing or sneezing from an illness
Smoking because it can cause frequent coughing
Excessive consumption of alcohol and or caffeinated beverages or foods
Certain medications that can cause a rapid increase in urine production
Sports that require a lot of running like track and tennis
Risk factors for stress incontinence:
There are certain factors that may increase your risk for incontinence one is your age. As we age our muscles become weaker which may contribute to incontinence.
Birth may be a risk factor as some delivery methods carry more risk for nerve damage such as having a forceps delivery as well as having a multiples delivery. Another risk factor is being obese as excessive weight puts pressure on the abdominal organs including the bladder.
It is important to seek a healthcare provider’s advise when stress incontinence interferes with your normal daily activity such as your ability to function at work, school or in your social life.
Receiving the diagnosis of stress incontinence:
Your healthcare provider will want to complete a through physical examination. You will be asked to give a complete medical history that includes all current and recent medications that you have been taking, all pregnancies and surgeries.
You will have a complete physical examination that will include your abdomen, pelvic area, and genitals. You will need to have your urine examined and perhaps a neurological exam and a urine stress test if the physical exam warrants it. Depending on the results, your healthcare provider may send you for further, specialized tests. You will soon know if you have stress incontinence.