We’re here to take you through the steps to make life easier whilst living with stress incontinence and what exactly it is.
Stress incontinence is more common than you think. Although anyone can experience it, it primarily affects women, with 1 in 3 women above 60 experiencing the condition at some point in their lives, and about half of women above 65 finding they sometimes have leaks.
What Causes Stress Incontinence?
There are many reasons why you might find yourself living with stress incontinence, but the most common reasons are:
- Prostate Surgery
When muscles supporting the urinary tract are weak, the muscles must work harder to hold the urine until you are ready to release. This extra stress on the bladder can therefore cause leaks and urinary incontinence.
If the pelvic floor (which supports the bladder and urethra) gets stretched, weakened or damaged, then stress incontinence can happen. Most people manage this with incontinence pads and pants which, over the years, have become more and more comfortable and discreet such as the below:
The TENA Lady Super pads feature a gentle surface for maximum comfort. The pad features double cores and provides extra width when there’s need for extra coverage. These pads are perfect for women with moderate stress incontinence.
Range from £5.69 to £6.06
Shop on Incontinence Supermarket
What Are Symptoms of Stress Incontinence?
Key symptoms are when urine leaks during forceful activities, or when stress is put on your bladder.
These activities may be exercise, lifting a heavy object, or sneezing/laughing/coughing. The range of urine leaked during these activities can differ from a few drops to a full bladder.
The things to look out for when you think you might be experiencing stress incontinence are:
- Feeling a pressure or spasms in the pelvic area that causes a strong urge to urinate
- Having to rush to the toilet more than usual
- Urinating while sleeping
The symptoms could be signs of underlying medical problems, so always see your doctor if you experience any of the above.
Does Stress Incontinence Go Away?
Results of treatments depend on what’s causing your stress incontinence.
If it is caused by a medical issue, then once the issue gets treated, the incontinence should go away. You can manage this by home treatments and certain exercises, or if this fails to make a big impact on your condition then medical treatments may be the way to go.
What home treatments work?
By trying exercises to strengthen the muscles around your bladder, you should see a big difference in your incontinence.
You can treat stress incontinence at home by:
Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and you can do them anywhere, anytime.
To do Kegel exercises, you must first identify the right muscles; the easiest way to do this is to stop your urine mid-stream. Once identified, you should squeeze these muscles for 5 seconds, then release for 5 seconds.
For maximum effect you should carry out the exercise 10 times, 3 times per day. These are perfect to carry out whilst watching TV at home or at your desk at work!
Training Your Bladder
This is a great way to train your bladder to hold your urine for longer.
To begin, make a bladder diary by tracking how often you go to the bathroom on a normal day. Then, start by slowly adding 15 minutes in between visits to the bathroom.
By gradually training your bladder to hold the urine for a longer amount of time, this will help your bladder to hold more urine before signaling the need to go.
Extra weight puts unnecessary pressure on your bladder and the supporting muscles.
By creating plan to lose weight by eating healthier and exercising, this will in turn reduce the pressure on your bladder.
Changing Your Drinking Habits
Drinks that include caffeine or alcohol may be making your bladder leakage worse.
Alcohol and caffeine increase the production of urine and can cause a person to need to use the bathroom more often. They also irritate the bladder making your incontinence symptoms worse.
By cutting out or reducing your increase of these irritants, you will reduce the symptoms to better manage your stress incontinence.
Smoking can cause many health problems including making incontinence worse.
Quit smoking to reduce the symptoms of incontinence. You can speak to your doctor for advice on how to do this.
What Medical Treatments Work?
If your stress incontinence is more severe, home treatments may not always be the answer.
A lot of medical treatments have been proven to help reduce or even cure incontinence. Speak to your doctor to see what the best option is for your incontinence, but as an overview here are some of the treatments available:
Most of the time if home treatments do not work the next step would be surgery, however if unsuitable for surgery, medicine may be provided.
A certain type of tablet called duloxetine can help stress incontinence by increasing the muscle tone of the urethra to help keep it closed. Other medicines may be available too including vaginal creams, rings or patches.
You can use either reusable or disposable pessaries to help manage your leaks.
Pessaries push up against the wall of the vagina and urethra to support the pelvic floor muscles and help reduce your stress incontinence.
There are different surgery options available to help stress incontinence from bulking agents to slings.
Your doctor will discuss the options that are a best fit for your incontinence. To learn more about some of the surgery options available, you can read our blog here.
Can I Find Support?
Living with stress incontinence can be difficult, but it is important to open up with your closest family or friends about what you are going through or find support with others going through a similar thing through our forum.
You may be embarrassed about your stress incontinence and may not want to talk about it with loved one or doctor, but know that your nurse or doctor can help.
The Best Products to Manage Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence usually means small leaks when you cough, sneeze or laugh meaning most of the time light – moderate incontinence products will be effective in keeping your leaks under control.
You can find a great selection of products specifically for stress incontinence here.
Other great products are available to help manage your stress incontinence which you can find here https://www.incontinencesupermarket.co.uk/shop-by-level/light-and-stress-incontinence