What is Stress Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary leakage of urine. The problem afflicts approximately 13 million adults in the United States, 85% of them being women. There are many conditions that can cause loss of bladder control. Among women, the problem is most commonly associated with a specific condition called Stress Urinary Incontinence or SUI.

Stress urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine during physical activity such as coughing, laughing, or lifting. The muscles that support the urethra (the small tube that carries urine out of the body) and bladder neck (the opening that connects the urethra to the bladder) have weakened, causing the urethra to drop during physical activity, resulting in urine leaking out of the body. This type of incontinence can be treated both surgically and nonsurgical.

Conditions that cause Stress Urinary Incontinence

The first condition is called hyper mobility, ("hyper" means too much and "mobility" refers to movement) which is common condition resulting from childbirth, previous pelvic surgery or hormonal changes. Hyper mobility occurs when the normal pelvic floor muscles can no longer provide the necessary support to the urethra and bladder neck. As a result, the bladder neck is free to drop when any downward pressure is applied and thus, involuntary leakage occurs.

The second condition is called intrinsic sphincter deficiency, usually called ISD. This medical term refers to the weakening of the urethral sphincter muscles or closing mechanism. As a result of this weakening, the sphincter does not function normally regardless of the position of the bladder neck or urethra.


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