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Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is an affliction that is extremely embarrassing for sufferers and tends to be something that they avoid talking about. Stress incontinence is diagnosed when urine loss is involuntary during a physical activity such as sneezing, coughing, exercise or laughing.

What Causes Stress Incontinence?

Stress incontinence is as a result of the lower urinary tract and nervous system not functioning as they should. Problems can also result from patients neither realising nor responding to urges to urinate.

The muscles that control the release of urine are usually weakened in sufferers and so are unable to stop the flow of urine when the abdomen is placed under pressure. This weakness can be as a result of childbirth, injury, medication, surgery or stress.


Risk Factors for Stress Incontinence:

1) Being a woman.

2) Having had a child.

3) Chronic coughing.

4) Aging.

5) Obesity.

6) Smoking.



The treatment option will depend on how bad your symptoms actually are and how it is impacting your daily life. In severe cases, surgery may be considered or you may be required to wear adult nappies.

In less severe cases, some lifestyle changes will no doubt be in order. You will be asked to stop smoking and to steer clear of caffeine and alcohol as a start. Some doctors ask you to keep a diary of urinary events in order to analyse the severity of the problem. 


There are 4 basic routes that treatment can take:

1) Behaviour modification

2) Medication

3) Surgery

4) Pelvic Floor Muscle Training


Behavioural modification could simply mean cutting down on extra fluid intake, urinating on a more frequent basis, avoiding activities that could result in leakage, losing weight, quitting smoking, making sure that bowel movements are regular and avoiding food that may irritate the bladder.

Pelvic Floor Muscle Training, otherwise known as Kegel exercises, can be very effective if practised regularly.

Medications are really best used in cases that are mild or moderate and work on controlling the bladder and bladder contractions.

Surgery is the last resort and only possible if the actual cause of the incontinence has been pinned down. I most cases you will be referred to less drastic measures before surgery is recommended.


The Outlook

In general, the prognosis is quite good and most people suffering from stress incontinence will find that their symptoms abate or disappear with a combination of behaviour modification and pelvic floor muscle exercises.

This is a problem that is manageable and the outlook, with the right treatment, is good. There is no need to suffer in silence. Click here for more info on dealing with stress incontinence.



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