It is defined as leakage of urine on exertion. When extra pressure is applied to the abdomen, the bladder can leak if you have weakened pelvic floor muscles or damaged ligaments. This means you may experience bladder leakage when you work out, lift something heavy, sneeze, cough or laugh.
You’re not alone!
It’s the most common type of incontinence and can affect up to 40% of women.
“Around 7 million women have some degree of incontinence and it’s a hidden problem, because so many are too embarrassed to seek help,” says Jeremy Ockrim, a consultant urologist at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in London.
A survey in 2016 revealed that around 4 in 10 women feel too embarrassed to discuss this issue with a healthcare professional and many women don’t realise it can be a manageable condition. It’s important we end the taboo over this common health issue and raise awareness to encourage women to share their experiences and solutions. However, we do appreciate that many will wish to keep their bladder issues private, so we suggest discussing your options with trained professionals at your local GP or urogynaecology clinic.
Stress incontinence is mainly caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles (the group of muscles which wrap around the underside of your bladder and back passage). Things like pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, surgery and medication can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. Additionally, if you are overweight, have a cough or have been constipated for a long time, this may also contribute to SUI due to ‘wear and tear’ of the pelvic floor.