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Stress Incontinence & How to Treat it

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What is stress incontinence?

Stress incontinence is the uncontrollable leakage of urine during physical exertion. It occurs when a physical movement or activity puts pressure on your bladder and causes an unintentional loss of urine.

Symptoms of stress incontinence

If you’re experiencing stress incontinence, you may experience leakage when you:

  • Laugh
  • Cough
  • Sneeze
  • Exercise

If you’re noticing symptoms of stress incontinence, you’re certainly not alone. As the most widespread type of urinary incontinence, stress incontinence is very common. Over nine million men and women in the UK, of varying ages, experience some form of stress incontinence.

Stress incontinence is more common in women, in part due to pregnancy and childbirth being a common cause.

How to diagnose stress incontinence

Stress incontinence can be diagnosed in a variety of ways. Generally, you should visit your doctor or a urologist who will complete specialised tests, including:

  • Asking you to cough forcefully to see if any urine leaks out
  • Analysing your urine for any irregularities
  • Performing an ultrasound scan
  • Keeping a bladder diary, to record how often you use the toilet and how much urine there is each time you go

Stress incontinence is not rare, and your doctor will have experience diagnosing it, so there is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed when talking to them about it.

Causes of stress incontinence

The most common causes of stress incontinence are:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Menopause
  • The weakening of muscles with age
  • Prostate surgery in men
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Obesity
  • Chronic coughing
Pregnant Woman Sitting in Doctor's

An easy way to imagine stress incontinence is to picture yourself holding a water balloon. Imagine the narrow part of the balloon is squeezed shut by your fingers to stop the water trickling out. If your fingers aren’t holding tight enough and you press the balloon, water will leak out.

The balloon represents your bladder, your fingers represent your pelvic floor muscles, and the pressure on the balloon represents an external physical force.

Stress incontinence treatment

With the right treatment for your stress incontinence, you can continue living your life with confidence.

The best treatment can vary by individual. Below are some ways to help manage your stress incontinence, and tips to reduce leakages:

  • Perform pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your Kegel muscles
  • Drink less alcohol, coffee and tea, as these are diuretics and irritate the bladder
  • Give up smoking, to help reduce the frequency or force of your coughs
  • Maintain a healthy weight, to avoid putting extra pressure on your bladder

Your doctor may recommend incontinence medication to help your bladder leak less urine, or incontinence surgery if the other options haven’t worked for you.

Stress incontinence is not something you need to learn to live with, or to feel ashamed of or embarrassed about. Discreet, comfortable solutions are available to help you manage stress incontinence without it impacting your everyday activities.

Depend’s Active Fit Underwear offers reliable protection and is especially good for those maintaining an active lifestyle.

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