She peed in her pants! Literally! Yes, female stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a reality and it does affect many women, but only few speak out about the problem. Though Urinary Incontinence is a problem usually associated with old age, but SUI especially is seen in many women even in their thirties.
Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the flow of urine outside the bladder. And SUI is often caused when there is any kind of abdominal stress on the pelvic organs like vagina, uterus, bladder and rectum. Stress here indicates any kind of physical pressure, exertion or force and not the psychological stress. This kind of pressure or stress is felt on the pelvic muscles when one lifts something heavy, coughs or sneezes.
Doctors are of the opinion that in majority of the cases where urinary incontinence is seen in women lesser than the age of 60, it is usually SUI. The simple reason why female stress urinary incontinence is common is due to its primary causative factor. Often post childbirth, SUI happens due to the pelvic muscles getting loosened up, or as an aftermath of nerve and muscle damage during normal childbirth or a surgical procedure. The sphincter muscle, responsible for holding the urine in the bladder, no longer functions effectively leading to leakage of urine at the instance of any stress in the pelvic muscle area.
There are some other causative factors for SUI as well like chronic coughing, obesity, menopause, anatomical predisposition, repeated lifting of heavy weight or continued indulgence in vigorous sports activities.
This physiological problem often causes a psychological impact resulting in the affected person to drastically cut down on her social life. So doctors reiterate on the need to speak up about the problem, because this is totally treatable and manageable.
Sometimes lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or reducing weight does help in managing and treating SUI. When the lone cause of SUI is due to excessive coughing, then the root causative factor could be coughing due to smoking and when that is tackled then SUI too is under control. Excess weight often exerts pressure on the pelvic muscles leading to SUI, so reducing weight is also an option in managing SUI.
Apart from this there are some exercises that help in tightening the pelvic floor muscles, and some other medications are also available to treat SUI. For managing the problem there are products like absorbents and urethral inserts that help in dealing with the psychological impact of SUI while physiological treatment is on. And the last option is surgical intervention.
With a host of options available, it’s time for the affected person to reclaim back their life and not suffer in silence due to SUI, which often leaves a deep psychological scar.