What is Urinary Stress Incontinence?

Photo of embarrassed woman hiding her face

Urinary stress incontinence is leaking caused by increased intra-abdominal pressure. This happens when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or strain in some way. Have you ever picked up something heavy and leaked a few drops of urine? Then you have experienced stress incontinence. The lifting/coughing/sneezing, etc. all act to increase the pressure in your abdomen and make it more difficult to hold back urine.

Urinary stress incontinence can happen at any age, but it more common in the menopausal years because the muscle tissues of the pelvic floor starts to thin—thereby weakening the muscles. That is why incontinence is reported to be much more common as women age.

Some women cross their legs when sneezing, hoping to prevent a leak. This can actually increase the abdominal pressure into the pelvic floor, and the sneeze further increases the overall pressure. Because of this increased pressure, crossing your legs can actually increase the possibility of a leak.

For the same reason, bending down as you sneeze also doesn’t help, and can even make the leak worse. If you have developed the habit of crossing your legs or bending down while sneezing, why don’t you try not doing this and see what happens? What do you have to lose?

Urinary stress incontinence is a form of incontinence that is easy to treat. Peggy Landini is a licensed occupational therapist who has treated women from 9 to 90 years of age with consistent success in reducing or even eliminating this condition. Even if you have had incontinence for over 20 years, the condition can often be easily remedied through an exercise program that focuses on the pelvic floor, along with lifestyle education.

(Photo credit: Dzz from morguefile.com)

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