What is stress urinary incontinence?
The following are risk factors linked to stress urinary incontinence:
- Being obese – obese people have increased pressure on their bladder and surrounding muscles, compared to people of normal weight. This weakens the muscles and makes it more likely that a leak occurs when the person sneezes or coughs.
- Smoking – regular smokers are more likely to develop a chronic cough, which may result in episodes of incontinence. A chronic cough (coughing a lot over the long term) places undue stress on the urinary sphincter, leading to stress incontinence. A regular smoker is also more susceptible to having an overactive bladder.
- Gender – women have a significantly higher chance of experiencing stress incontinence than men. Certain aspects of a female’s life, such as childbirth and menopause, make incontinence more likely. A man’s risk is higher if he has prostate gland problems.
- Old age – the muscles in the bladder and urethra weaken during old age. This means the bladder cannot hold as much liquid as before, raising the risk of involuntary leakage. This does not mean that people will necessarily become incontinent when they are old; it just means the risk is higher.
- Some diseases and conditions – people with diabetes and some kidney diseases are more likely to suffer from urinary incontinence.
- Caffeine – researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that persons who drink approximately two cups of coffee each day may be more likely to suffer from urinary incontinence than persons of the same age who drink less or no coffee at all. The Journal of Urology (January 2nd, 2013 issue).
Causes of stress urinary incontinence:
When the pelvic floor muscles are weakened and cannot keep the urethra completely closed, stress incontinence occurs. Sudden pressure on the bladder may cause urine to leak out of the urethra. A cough or sneeze can trigger it. The following can cause the pelvic floor muscles to lose some of their strength:
- Menopause – when estrogen levels drop the muscles may get weaker.
- A hysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus (womb).