Tests for Stress Urinary Incontinence

25-45% of adult women report occasional leakage. Don’t suffer in silence.

Stress Urinary Incontinence

Image of how the bladder works

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) occurs when urine leaks during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing or any movement that puts pressure (stress) on the bladder.3


How does SUI affect the bladder? 14

  • Bladder leakage in SUI is due to the weakening of the pelvic muscles and tissue that normally support the bladder.
  • In a standard functioning bladder, the muscles in your urethra stay closed to prevent urine from escaping the bladder until you have reached the bathroom.
  • With SUI, however, any force that is exerted on the bladder through physical movement such as running, sneezing or laughing, may cause your bladder to leak since weakened pelvic muscles are no longer staying closed.

Not all women will experience SUI in the same way. Some women will only leak when they exercise vigorously or when they have a full bladder. Other women, however, may experience bladder leakage from daily living activities, such as walking or sneezing. While the amount of urine leakage may differ, at some point SUI may interfere with your activities, intrude on your social life, or be just plain inconvenient and embarrassing.5513

Tests for Stress Urinary Incontinence

How is urinary incontinence diagnosed?

As there are many different types of urinary incontinence which share the same symptoms13, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis to ensure that the appropriate treatment is selected.

The first step is to seek out a physician that specializes in Pelvic Floor Disorders such as urogyns as they have received special training to diagnose and treat women with urinary incontinence.49 13

Medical history

The first thing your physician will ask is for a complete rundown on your medical history, which includes any medication or supplements you may be taking. Next, your physician will want to know about your bladder leakage symptoms and when you experience them. Being as truthful as possible is important. It is easy to become embarrassed or uncomfortable, but accurately describing your symptoms is the first step to finding a solution.

Approximately 18 million women in the U.S. suffer from urinary incontinence.2

Physical exam

After you have discussed your medical history, a physical exam will often be conducted. Your specialist may look to see if you have any additional pelvic floor disorders that may be related to your bladder leakage. Next, your physician may ask you to do a “cough test” to see how well your bladder holds up to stress during normal daily activities. Your physician could also ask you to do an “at home pad test”. This test will help to estimate how much you are leaking throughout the day to determine the severity of your urinary incontinence.9 There are bladder imaging and bladder function tests that can also be conducted if your physician needs additional information to diagnose your symptoms accurately.

Symptom Checker

Do you show symptoms that could identify stress urinary incontinence? Read the bullets below and ask yourself if you leak during any of the activities. If you say yes to one or more, you may have symptoms of stress incontinence and should consult with your doctor. 

Do you leak urine during the following activities?

  • Laughing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Heavy Lifting
  • Physical Activity
  • During Intercourse

Remember, although these signs and symptoms can alert you to a problem, they are not unique to stress incontinence, so it is important to consult a doctor for the correct diagnosis.