Stress incontinence in males and females occurs when physical activities exert pressure (stress) on the bladder causing the involuntary loss of urine. Stress incontinence is not connected to psychological stress. Normally, when such stress is applied to the bladder, the various muscles involved in retaining or expelling urine withstand the pressure to keep the urine in the bladder. However, because of factors like childbirth, surgery and injury, these muscles become weakened and unable to withstand certain levels of pressure. This results in stress incontinence following childbirth as well as when a person sneezes, laughs hard or lifts a heavy weight.
Stress Incontinence Symptoms
Stress incontinence may be present if you leak urine when you undertake any strenuous activity. In some cases, the activities may be as mild as sneezing or experiencing stress incontinence first trimester while in others, leakage will occur when extreme pressure is applied like when lifting heavy weights at the gym. In general, stress incontinence symptoms are easy to identify and do not require a trained eye. Nevertheless, further testing may be required to determine the level of incontinence and how weakened the urinary muscles are.
Stress Incontinence Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis involves going over your medical history including childbirth, undergoing a physical exam, urinalysis, neurological testing and a bladder stress test. These will be used to determine the level of stress incontinence you have. After diagnosis, treatments your doctor may suggest include behavioral therapies like foods to avoid and Kegel exercises, or medications, and devices like a vaginal pessary. If your symptoms are extreme, surgery may be recommended, which may involve a retropubic colposuspension or a sling procedure to support the urethra.