Thousands of women experience urinary incontinence (UI) or the involuntary evacuation of urine. While for some women it may just be a few drops while coughing or running, others may experience a sudden and strong urge to urinate prior to eliminating a substantial amount of urine. Both the symptoms can occur in many women. The effects of incontinence can range from being mildly bothersome to being completely debilitating. Many women refrain from taking part in many activities with their friends and family because of the fear of embarrassing themselves publicly.
What is Stress Incontinence?
There are many types of urinary incontinence
, and stress incontinence is the most common amongst them. It is characterised by urine leakage due to sudden extra stress or pressure on the bladder. Leakage of urine occurs because the urethra and muscles of the pelvic floor are not able to withstand the extra stress. The muscles of the pelvic floor become weak. While most of the time it is only the emergence of a few drops of urine, but sometimes quite a large amount can also be evacuated.
Stress urinary incontinence
(SUI), also known as effort incontinence, occurs when the afflicted individual laughs, coughs, or exercises (where running or jumping is involved).
Possible causes of stress incontinence
Stress incontinence in women occurs mostly due to the weakening of muscles of the pelvic floor, which is generally because of childbirth. Muscles of the pelvic floor are those that are present under the rectum and bladder. Women who have had children are more prone to this disorder. It also occurs more commonly because of advancing age, especially after menopause
, since the muscles keep getting weaker. Even overweight women are highly susceptible to acquiring it.
Treatment options for stress incontinence
Usually, the first treatment involves strengthening the pelvic floor muscles by performing certain exercises. Almost six out of ten cases can be improved or cured via this treatment. In some cases, apart from exercises, medication may also be advised. However, in case these remedies do not provide the desired results and if the problem continues, then surgery may also be advocated.
Pelvic floor strengthening exercises for stress incontinence
First of all, the correct muscles should be exercised. You may be referred to a physiotherapist
or a continence advisory by your doctor to get adequate advice on how to perform the exercises. The following transitions explain the exercise steps in detail:
- Start by sitting on a chair, and keep your knees slightly apart. Then, squeeze the muscle that is just on top of the anus' entrance. When you squeeze it, you will feel a certain amount of movement in it. Try not to move your legs or buttocks.
- Next, try imagining as if you are passing urine and attempting to halt the flow. In this exercise, you will be using a slightly different part of the pelvic floor muscles when compared to the previous exercise. Out here, you will be strengthening the muscles that are towards the front side.
These exercises must be done every day. After a few weeks, you will find the pelvic floor muscles becoming stronger. It usually takes about 8 - 20 weeks for a major improvement to take place. However, after that you could find yourself cured of stress incontinence. It is advisable to continue doing these exercises for the rest of your life.
Medications for stress incontinence
is a drug that is used for treating depression. However, it was discovered that it was also effective against SUI. It works by interfering with the effects of certain chemicals that help in transmitting nerve impulses to various muscles, which cause the urethra muscles to contract more strongly.
According to a study, it was shown that in six out of ten women who were prescribed duloxetine, the incidence of urine evacuation was halved in comparison to the time before they had taken the medication. Although duloxetine on its own may not cure the problem, it may be helpful in alleviating the condition to a certain extent. However, if this drug is combined with the pelvic floor strengthening exercises, it probably will have higher chances of curing this condition.
Surgery for stress incontinence
There are several surgical methods for treating stress incontinence, and they are usually successful in curing this disorder. Surgery is generally advised when the treatments mentioned above have not helped. These methods help in supporting or tightening the structures and muscles under the bladder.
It is believed that if women do pelvic floor strengthening exercises
after having a baby, then they are less likely to develop stress incontinence.