Bladder leakage (or urinary incontinence) is a medical condition shared by millions of women. To better understand bladder leakage, it is important to explain urinary incontinence and the different types of incontinence. 2
Urinary Incontinence (UI)
Is the involuntary loss of urine from the body. UI can be frequent or occasional. The loss of urine can range from a few dribbles to a complete emptying of the bladder.9
As discussed above, there are many different types of urinary incontinence, but the most common are stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and urge incontinence which can also be called overactive bladder (OAB).13
Women can often show symptoms from more than one category13 (mixed incontinence), so it is important to seek a specialist to ensure you find the treatment that is right for you.
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
Stress urinary incontinence can develop slowly as you age or may be a result of a specific event or factors such as childbirth, previous pelvic surgery, menopause or obesity.11
Other conditions linked to UI include depression, urinary tract infections, smoking and diabetes.11 It can also occur with repetitive straining such as chronic coughing or high-impact activities such as aerobics and running.14
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.
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
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.
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?
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.