Stress Incontinence Explained

stress incontinenceOf the three to six million individuals diagnosed with urinary incontinence in the U.K., a majority suffer from stress incontinence. This form of incontinence occurs when the bladder leaks due to sudden pressure within the abdomen and on the bladder, such as that caused by exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting heavy objects. Though men are as likely to suffer from stress incontinence, it is more common in women, especially those over 40. 1 in 5 women have some degree of stress incontinence though the number may be higher as many hide their condition due to embarrassment.

Contrary to the belief that this form of incontinence is caused by aging, it is the result of the weakening or damage of pelvic floor muscles (muscles supporting the bladder and urethra), urethral sphincter (muscle around the opening of the bladder) and other muscles that control urine flow. This damage is usually caused by:

  • Vaginal childbirth
  • Pressure on stomach due to obesity or pregnancy
  • Damage to the bladder due to surgical procedures such as hysterectomy
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Medicines such as diuretics, antidepressants and sedatives

Symptoms You Should Be Concerned About

If you tend to leak a small to moderate amount of urine, especially when you cough, sneeze or laugh, consider visiting your physician. If your symptoms also include a frequent, uncontrollable need to urinate, you have developed mixed incontinence and require treatment before incontinence interferes with your daily routine and social and love life.

Treatment Options 

There are four types of treatment suggested for stress incontinence sufferers.

The first of these is behaviour and lifestyle changes. Recommended for mild cases, you may have been advised to drink less fluid, quit smoking, and control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.

The second option is pelvic floor muscle training, which aims at strengthening weakened muscles.

The third option is prescribing anticholinergic medicines, antimuscarinic drugs, or oestrogen therapy (for women who have gone through menopause).  However, this will only be effective for mild cases. Women with serious conditions and those who want a permanent solution can opt for surgical procedures such as:

  • Tape procedures, which insert a plastic tape to support the urethra and reduce leakage
  • Colposuspension, a procedure that entails lifting the neck of the bladder and stitching it in its new position
  • Sling procedures, which entail supporting the bladder by placing a sling around its neck
  • Urethral bulking agents, which are substances injected into the urethra’s walls to increase their size and allow the urethra to be controlled

Surgery is a highly effective permanent solution for stress incontinence. However, due to the delicate nature of this procedure, you need a specialised professional such as Mr Broome. In addition to successfully carrying out hundreds of stress incontinence surgeries, we will ensure your comfort before and after the surgery.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us or to ring us.

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Dear Mr Broome,

This is just a little note to say that you for your help and empathy in treating me. Although we are still in the dark as to what is causing my symptoms, you have helped to put my mind at rest that it is nothing serious. I have felt a little discarded by the doctors I have seen nearer to home. So your empathy was greatly appreciates, as was Miss Lees.

H.W.