February 01, 2017

Stress incontinence

Taking the next step

Stress incontinence

It's estimated that 1 out of every 3 women in the U.S. experiences stress incontinence — leaking urine when pressure is exerted on the bladder from coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting something heavy. For many women, this isn't necessarily a big problem. But for those who experience frequent, high-volume leakage with routine activities, it can have a definite impact on everyday life.

Stress incontinence can be effectively treated with conservative management, such as daily exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. For a number of women, this is all the treatment they need. A key to successful pelvic floor muscle strengthening is identifying these muscles properly, which a doctor or physical therapist can help you do.

If you aren't improving after two to three months of doing these exercises multiple times daily, and leakage is limiting your daily routine, it may be time to consider other options. Although more invasive and accompanied by a higher risk of certain complications than other therapies, surgery can be an effective long-term solution.

There are many different surgical techniques, and each has its own balance of advantages and disadvantages. Being fully informed through the help of your doctor and other reputable sources can help you make a better treatment decision.

Know beforehand

Before surgery, your doctor will likely want to check for other factors that may be contributing to your stress incontinence. Most of the time, these can be managed without surgery.

For example, many women with stress incontinence also have overactive bladder — a frequent, urgent need to urinate. Surgery isn't recommended if your most troublesome symptoms are from an...