Stress incontinence is a condition, usually in women, in which you involuntarily urinate when pressure in the abdomen increases suddenly, as in coughing or jumping. This tends to happen because the pelvic floor muscles have been weakened or damaged, causing the bladder to leak. The two biggest causes of stress incontinence are menopause and damage to the pudendal nerve. After menopause, women lose the added protection from estrogen that acts on the perineum by fluffing up the tissue. Additionally, in younger patients with leakage, it could be a bladder infection or excessive exercise causing the leakage. To help prevent stress incontinence, healthcare professionals recommend these three basic things, avoid constipation, be careful lifting heavy objects, and exercise with care. All of these small changes can make a big difference for your pelvic muscles and bladder leakage if you take the time to recognize them. Unfortunately, for many women while this is going on they think, "Oh, this is normal," or are too embarrassed to say anything to their doctor, but this is no problem to push to the side. If the problem is more severe or has been going on longer, there are other treatments such as exercises, biofeedback, and electrical stimulation. All of these treatments help women learn to control their pelvic muscles and prevent stress incontinence.
Sabina Weaver, MSPT-ATC-L