Female Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is very common among women of all ages and increases as you get older. SUI is the unintentional passing of urine during activity or exertion, such as coughing, laughing, or exercise. It is caused by a weakness of the pelvic floor muscles.
SUI affects more than 13 million adults in the United States, 85% of which are women. This condition can have a significant impact on daily life, affecting activities, relationships and emotional well-being. It can occur at any stage of life, with pelvic disorders from childbirth, pelvic surgery and aging increasing the risk of incontinence.
What Are the Symptoms of SUI?
The main symptom of SUI is when urine leaks out during any activity that increases abdominal pressure. The amount of leakage can vary from few drops to more than a tablespoon. Some activities that can lead to leakage include:
- Having Sex
- Heavy Lifting
- Standing Up
- Getting in or out of a car
What are the Treatment Options for SUI?
You should see a urologist if you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above. Before recommending a device or procedure, your doctor may recommend:
- Losing excess weight
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising your Pelvic Floor Muscles
- Retraining your bladder
- Pharmaceutical treatment
If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, an inserted vaginal device may help prevent leaks – such as tampons, over-the-counter pessaries or custom fitted pessaries. A pessary is a ring-like device that fits inside the urethra. The device helps to support the base of the bladder to prevent urine leaks.
Sling Surgery – The most common surgery for SUI in women is “sling” surgery. In this surgery, a small strip of material (a sling) is placed under your urethra to prevent it from moving downward during activities. It acts as a hammock to support the urethra. Many sling techniques and materials have been developed. Slings can be made from your own tissue, donor tissue or surgical mesh.
Bladder Neck Suspension – Also referred to as Retropubic Suspension, Colposuspension or Burch Suspension. In this surgery, sutures are placed in the tissue along the side of the bladder neck and urethra and attached to a ligament along the pubic bone. This supports the urethra and sphincter muscles to prevent them from moving downward and accidentally opening.