Everyone may have had to hold their pee a little too long and then sprinkled out a drop when they heard a hilarious joke.
But if you find yourself regularly dribbling urine when you laugh, dance, exercise, or even sneeze, you may have stress urinary incontinence or SUI.
According to the American Urological Association, there are two types of urinary incontinence. One is SUI, and it is the inability to control light to moderate urine discharge when there is some stress on the bladder caused by muscle contractions from another laughing, sneezing, etc.
The other is urge urinary incontinence, which is marked by sudden, uncontrollable urges to go to the bathroom, resulting in moderate to large leaks.
Thankfully, SUI may be treatable with lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking and losing weight, for example, can reduce coughing. Regularly performing Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor to offer greater control in preventing leaks.
Other treatments can include absorbent pads for short-term help, as well as prescription medical devices. In some instances, a doctor may recommend surgery, but lifestyle measures are often the starting point.
So who is at risk for this condition? A number of groups have an elevated risk for SUI. Women, however, have a much higher frequency of SUI than men.
Risk factors aside from gender include pregnancy/giving birth; smoking; chronic coughing; being overweight; past pelvic or prostate surgery; nerve injuries to the spine or neurological disease.
It’s a wise idea to pay attention to how often and when you might be leaking urine. It is a condition that can be better treated when identified early, particularly with lifestyle measures.
If you’re noticing it’s happening, try learning to make lifestyle changes and, as always, speak to your doctor.