What is stress incontinence?
is an involuntary release of urine that occurs when pressure is put on the
abdomen during activities such as sneezing, laughing, or exercising. It is the
most common type of urinary incontinence in women. Stress incontinence is
caused by the bladder neck dropping too low in the pelvis (bladder drop), which
may occur as a result of aging or having given birth several times. It is
usually a long-lasting (chronic) problem that needs treatment.
What are pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises?
Kegel exercises, also called pelvic floor exercises, strengthen the pelvic
muscles involved in urination. They can be performed any time during the day
without anyone being aware you are doing them. During these exercises, you use
the muscles that control urinary flow-tighten and hold them for 3 seconds, then
relax them for 3 seconds. Do this 10 to 15 times each session. Try to do 3 or
more sessions a day. Kegel exercises improve or cure urinary incontinence in
many people who use them. By adding
biofeedback-a relaxation technique for learning to
control a body function that is not normally under conscious control, such as
skin temperature or blood pressure-to Kegel exercises, the success rate for
curing stress incontinence is even higher than with Kegel exercises
What medicines are used for stress incontinence?
There are two
antidepressant medicines that are sometimes used to
improve symptoms. But they do not cure stress incontinence.
Duloxetine can help control stress incontinence. Studies show that duloxetine
reduces the number of times women have stress incontinence.2 Imipramine (such as Tofranil) is another antidepressant that
is sometimes used to treat incontinence, although it is not usually effective
for stress incontinence.
Can surgery help stress incontinence?
used for severe stress incontinence or when other methods of treatment have
failed. The decision to have surgery is based on an accurate diagnosis of the
cause of the stress incontinence, other treatment possibilities, and realistic
expectations for the surgery. Most surgical failures are due to incorrect
diagnosis of the cause of the stress incontinence.
and supports the connection between the bladder and the urethra. After surgery,
you should have less or no urine leakage during activities that put pressure on
the bladder, such as sneezing, coughing, and laughing.
What other treatments help reduce symptoms?
Absorbent products, certain
mechanical devices (such as a catheter, pessary, or
adhesive patch), or
electrical stimulation are often used to treat urinary
incontinence, before surgery. These methods have no serious side effects, can
usually be done at home, and do not limit future treatment options. Most of
these methods are successful in treating mild to moderate incontinence.
Electrical stimulation is still being studied.
If you need more information, see the topic
Urinary Incontinence in Women.