What is Stress Urinary Incontinence?

Stress UI Facts

 Primarily Affects Women

 Affects 14 Million+ US Women

 Most Frequent UI in Women

Urinary stress incontinence, sometimes referred to as effort incontinence, takes place when abdominal pressure is put on the bladder due to common movements or activities such as sneezing, coughing, lifting or even laughing. Variable amounts of urinary leakage (from a drop to a small stream) may occur when this pressure is put on weakened pelvic muscles that support the bladder.

Unlike the overflow type, stress urinary incontinence is a health condition that largely occurs among females, affecting nearly 15 million adult women in the United States. You’re not alone if you think this type of UI pertains to you – stress incontinence is the most frequent type of urinary incontinence impacting women today.


Though stress incontinence does have a rare tendency to affect men, generally as a result of abnormalities following unsuccessful prostate surgery, it’s common prevalence in women is largely caused by normal biological changes that can compromise the bladder’s ability to close completely.  These are:

  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause

In addition to pelvic surgery, these physical changes can directly lead to weakened muscles in and around the bladder, the pelvis and the urethra. Leakage of urine happens when pressure is put on these weakened muscles.


The primary symptom of this type of urinary incontinence is minor to moderate urinary leakage when abdominal pressure is put upon the bladder. Many basic activities or exertions can cause such pressure, some involuntary (coughing or sneezing) and some integral to our quality of life (aerobics, running, general exercise) and general health.


Weight loss and quitting smoking have been reported to greatly reduce the incidence of stress incontinence…

Today there are is a wide range of treatment approaches to incontinence in women, from lifestyle and health changes to exercise to surgical options. Weight loss and quitting smoking have been reported to greatly reduce the incidence of the stress type of incontinence, as have reducing your general overall consumption of liquid, caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol.


In terms of exercises, the most frequently employed and most beneficial approach for women under 60 are Kegel exercises. Kegels specifically target the pelvic muscles. Over time, building the strength back up in your pelvic floor and sphincter muscles has been shown to dramatically reduce urinary leakage due to women incontinence.


Surgical options, commonly used for more severe cases of leakage, may include urethropexy, vaginal slings or transvaginal tape.

Diapers and Pads

Finally, for topical alleviation of stress urinary incontinence, there are a number of absorbent undergarments and adult diapers on the market to help keep you feeling cool and confident.

References – MedlinePlus | Mayo Clinic | WebMD

Real Talk from Real Sufferers

After I had Trevor (my second child) in my late thirties, I found that I would have these embarrassing little leaking episodes. I like to stay active and try to keep the physique of my youth (LOL – you ladies know how fun that can be!), but as I was trying to get fit again in my favorite Pilates class, I started leaking urine seemingly out of the blue. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was happening whenever I sneezed or sometimes when I laughed. If that doesn’t “kill a joke” then I don’t know what does! For me, the leaks were never very severe, but definitely enough for me to feel very distracted and uncomfortable.

Well, I found out that what I was experiencing with incontinence is pretty common among women, especially us mothers. When I became confident enough to bring it out in the open, I discovered that many of my own girlfriends and family members had been suffering the exact same symptoms in private. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to manage my SI. For me, it is Kegels and pads – real boosters to my quality of life and to help me feel more like me again.”

Lisa L., Beaverton, OR