What Is SUI?
Stress Urinary Incontinence is a condition that happens when physical activity creates pressure on the bladder, causing you to leak urine. This can happen with any type of physical activity, including exercise, coughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects.
Many people think that any type of urine leakage is the same, but that’s not true. People who feel an urgent need to use the restroom very frequently, actually have what’s known as urge incontinence (or overactive bladder). This type of incontinence is caused by involuntary contraction of your bladder muscles, which is why this condition is also sometimes called “spastic bladder”. Stress Urinary Incontinence on the other hand, is typically caused by a weakened pelvic floor.
What are the symptoms of SUI?
Typical symptoms of SUI are leakage upon any type of physical activity. This may include high impact exercises (jumping, running, etc.), lifting heavy objects, or even simple activities such as bending over, sneezing, laughing or coughing. Basically, anything that puts extra pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor.
Does Stress Urinary Incontinence affect both men and women?
Yes – While many people associate SUI with women, and it is more common in women, many men can also experience SUI too.
What Causes SUI?
In women, SUI is often caused by conditions that weaken the pelvic floor. Pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, nerve damage, menopause, and even chronic coughing caused by smoking can lead to a weakened pelvic floor.
In men, SUI is usually caused by prostate removal. This procedure can sometimes cause problems with the sphincter muscle, resulting in occasional urine leakage, SUI.
How is Stress Urinary Incontinence Diagnosed?
It may seem that leaking urine is the only clue you would need in order to diagnose SUI, but determining the type of leakage and also the cause are very important when making a proper diagnoses, and eventually, a treatment plan. Your doctor will want to learn all about your medical history, perform a physical exam, collect a urine sample, ensure there is no pelvic nerve damage. Your doctor will also likely perform a urinary stress test to see if you leak when stress is placed on your bladder (when you cough, or bear down).
In more complicated cases of Stress Urinary Incontinence, tests around bladder function may also be administered.
Is Stress Urinary Incontinence Serious?
Stress Urinary Incontinence is not a life-threatening disease, but it can greatly affect a person’s quality of life and should be taken seriously. Accidental urine leakage can cause great embarrassment and shame, and can even lead to isolation, since people with SUI can become so fearful of having an accident that they limit their time with friends, family, and even work.
Stress Urinary Incontinence is a treatable condition, but many people are so embarrassed by it that they wait on average 7 years before even talking to a doctor. Don’t let this happen to you. You shouldn’t allow Stress Urinary Incontinence to limit your life.
Can Stress Urinary Incontinence Be Cured or Reversed?
There are many treatment options for SUI, and in many cases, symptoms can be improved or eliminated. A lot depends on the cause of your SUI, the severity, and your method for treating SUI. Physical therapy can do wonders, but it’s something you need to keep up with and not all patients are able to be compliant with their treatment. Surgery can also help with symptoms, but not everyone experiences complete recovery from SUI after surgery. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your specific condition, the treatment options you’re considering, and what you can expect.
What Are The Treatment Options For SUI?
There are a number of effective therapies for Stress Urinary Incontinence. Some of these include:
Making changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference when it comes to SUI symptoms. Some behavioral changes include:
Weight loss. Excess weight can put added pressure on your bladder. Losing a few pounds can help not only your waistline, but your SUI symptoms as well.
Fluid Consumption. Your doctor may recommend making changes to not only what you drink, but how much, and when. Limiting your fluids before a workout, or trading out your sugary soda for water may help a lot in eliminating your leaks.
Bladder Retraining. Your bladder is a muscle, and just like any other muscle, it can be trained. Starting a regular voiding schedule can help train your bladder to hold urine for longer amounts of time, and may reduce the number or severity of incontinence episodes
Quit Smoking. Smoking can lead to chronic coughing, which can place a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor, leading to bladder leaks. Quitting smoking may help to not only eliminate your cough, but it can also lead to a healthier lifestyle in general.
Pelvic floor physical therapy has been shown to greatly improve the symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. The pelvic floor is a web of muscles that acts as a support system that holds up key organs, including the bladder. When it becomes weakened from things like childbirth, it can lead to Stress Urinary Incontinence. A trained physical therapist can provide you with a proper examination to determine where the weakness lies, and can show you the proper exercises to strengthen not only the pelvic floor (like kegels), but also the core muscles that also play such a big role in providing overall support.
If your PT prescribes a kegel regimen, a product like INNOVO shorts can help you perform these exercises easily, in your own home. Cleared by the FDA, INNOVO shorts deliver 180 perfect pelvic floor contractions via electrical stimulations over each 30 minute session, and can be a great tool, especially when you’re learning how to do them (which can be difficult). INNOVO is available by prescription only, so talk to your PT about how to get one.
Sometimes, the bladder can prolapse, which means the pelvic floor has weakened enough for the bladder to drop into the vagina. A pessary is a small ring-shaped device that fits inside the vagina and helps to hold things in place and prevent leaks.
In more advanced cases of SUI, surgery may be an option. There are several surgical options for SUI, including sling procedures, artificial sphincters, and injectable bulking agents. These procedures have benefits and risks, so be sure to discuss the pros and cons with your doctor.
Don’t let Stress Urinary Incontinence control your life. Talk to your doctor about the treatment options available today.
This post is sponsored by INNOVO®.
INNOVO® is a first-in-class, wearable and truly non-invasive solution that treats the root cause of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) safely.
Utilizing its innovative Multipath® technology, INNOVO sends targeted and pain-free muscle stimulations through a pair of shorts via neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), to safely and effectively strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor.
By adjusting the intensity on a hand-held controller, INNOVO delivers 180 perfect pelvic floor contractions (or pelvic floor exercises) per session. In as little as four weeks with regular use five days a week for 30 minutes, women experience significant improvements.