What is stress incontinence?
Stress incontinence is just one of several types of urinary incontinence. This type of incontinence is triggered by a ‘stressor’ that increases abdominal pressure which prompts urinary leakage. Common stressors include laughing, coughing, sneezing, and physical exertion such as lifting. Obesity may also promote this incontinence due to excess weight bearing down on the bladder.
In addition, athletic activities that produce a constant bouncing motion on the pelvis can lead to stress incontinence. These activities can include long-distance running, jogging, or basketball.
The source of stress incontinence is often the weakness of pelvic floor muscles. So for women, stress incontinence may appear after childbirth or during menopause. Both age and gender are factors in the development of stress incontinence. Traditionally, women experience this urologic condition more often then men.
Evaluation of stress incontinence
When visiting a urologist, several steps will be taken to accurately diagnose incontinence. A typical incontinence evaluation includes:
- Reviewing the patient’s medical history.
- Evaluation of current medications.
- A physical examination.
- Urinalysis and urine culture to test for bacteria or infection.
- Post Void Residual testing to monitor if urine remains in the bladder after voiding.
- Urodynamics testing is used to evaluate how the bladder fills and empties.
- Cystoscopy uses a small scope to look inside the bladder and to view the urethra.
- A voiding diary is kept by the patient to log fluid intake and urine output throughout the day and night.
Stress incontinence is a treatable condition. Treatment options include:
- Behavior and diet modifications.
- Weight loss.
- Exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles (Kegel exercises).
- Minimally-invasive outpatient surgery (urethral sling).
Stress urinary incontinence is quite common and generally treated with high success rates. If you are experiencing urinary leakage, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.