Stress incontinence: Causes, symptoms, exercises, and treatment

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Bladder | Tuesday, August 09, 2016 - 03:00 PM

stress incontinence Stress incontinence is the result of added pressure on the bladder contributing to urinary frequency and leaks. In many cases, patients are unable to control their urine, so they may experience the urge to urinate in all circumstances. Stress urinary incontinence goes beyond being just a bladder problem and has been linked to social isolation, embarrassment, and even depression.

Anything can trigger stress incontinence – laughing, sneezing, coughing – so a person may be fearful of a possible leakage even if they have to sneeze. It primarily refers to the physical force and does not imply that emotional stress plays a role in urinary urgency or leaks. On the other hand, stress incontinence can heighten one’s emotional stress.

Here we will examine the causes, symptoms, exercises, and treatments for stress urinary incontinence.

Causes and Symptoms of stress incontinence

The main cause of stress incontinence is the weakening of the urinary sphincter. The urinary sphincter is responsible for releasing urine, so when it becomes weak it loses its ability to retain urine.

The bladder expands when it fills up with urine, and the valve-like muscles in the urethra stay shut to prevent leaks. When these muscles get weak, any pressure on the bladder – coughing, sneezing, laughing, certain movements, etc. – can cause leaking.

Childbirth or prostate surgery are some of the reasons for the pelvic floor and urinary sphincter to become weak. Some other contributing factors include illnesses that cause chronic coughing or sneezing, obesity, smoking (which can trigger frequent coughing), excess consumption of caffeine or alcohol, high-impact activities, and hormonal deficiencies.

The primary symptom of stress urinary incontinence is leakage, which can occur when coughing, sneezing, laughing, standing up, getting out of a car, lifting something heavy, exercising, or having sex.

Home remedies and prevention for stress incontinence

Quit Smoking – How Much Longer Will You Live?Living with stress urinary incontinence can be a challenge and even change the way you go about your life as you are constantly fearful you can have an accident at any moment. Here are some home remedies and prevention tips for stress urinary incontinence.

  • Stock up on supplies – carry around extra garments and incontinence products, which can discreetly be stowed away
  • Get familiar with your surroundings – locate nearby bathrooms and figure out your access
  • Empty your bladder prior to sex
  • Try different sexual positions that don’t add more stress to the bladder
  • Do your Kegels
  • Lose extra weight
  • Add fiber to your diet
  • Avoid food and beverage triggers
  • Quit smoking

Stress Urinary Incontinence: Treatment Options

Treatment options for stress urinary incontinence include:

  • Behavioral therapy, which can help you change behaviors and the way you live to reduce occurrence of stress incontinence
  • Pelvic muscle training
  • Prescribed medications
  • Surgery

Pelvic floor exercises for stress incontinence


Kegels are exercises specifically for the muscles of your pelvic floor. They strengthen your ability to hold in urine, thus reducing the risk of leaks and accidents. The good thing about Kegel exercises is that they can be done anywhere at any time because they are super discreet!

To perform Kegels, simply contract your pelvic area as if you were holding in urine, hold the position for a few seconds, release, and repeat. As mentioned, this can be done anytime, because no one knows what you are doing. So whether you are watching TV or sitting in the office, you can exercise and improve your pelvic floor muscles.

Bladder training

You can actually train your bladder to hold more urine. Start by establishing your baseline – how many times do you urinate a day? Once you have an estimated schedule, start training your bladder by holding in your urine for longer durations in-between urine breaks each day. By practicing this technique, your bladder will “learn” to hold more urine over time.


Your doctor will provide you with a device that will let them know if you are squeezing the right muscles while performing pelvic floor exercises. This way, you can better improve your technique in order to promote a strong bladder.

Abs and core exercises

Working out your abdomen and core will not only improve posture and strength, but can also strengthen your bladder. This is because, according to a mounting body of research, the pelvic and core muscles work together. Taking part in regular exercise with a focus on strengthening your core and back may provide you with some benefits for your bladder as well.

As you can see, there are natural methods to make your bladder stronger and to better manage your overactive bladder condition. By combining home remedies with exercises, you can reduce urinary urgency and prevent the leaks.

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