What is Stress Urinary Incontinence?

Stress urinary incontinence is a disorder in which the bladder leaks urine during activities that require exertion, such as lifting, laughing, coughing, and sneezing. Leakage occurs because the muscles responsible for holding urine have become weak. This type of incontinence will affect about one in three women at some point in their lives. It is particularly prevalent in women who have given birth vaginally, have been pregnant, are extremely overweight, or are in menopause. Although more women than men suffer from stress incontinence, men who have had prostate surgery are also at risk of developing this condition.

Treatments vary based on the severity of the incontinence. Mild to moderate leakage may be controlled by doing pelvic floor exercises, avoiding foods that can irritate the bladder, or taking medication. For severe incontinence, however, surgery may be necessary. The most common procedures for stress urinary incontinence are bladder suspension, artificial urinary sphincter surgery, and sling surgery.

Each of these procedures takes about an hour to an hour and a half. You will likely wake up with a catheter, a tube that drains urine, as swelling after surgery makes it difficult to urinate. Taking slow, short walks to keep the blood flow moving is usually encouraged within hours of the surgery. Although you may return to work within seven to ten days after certain procedures, strenuous activities such as running and working out are not recommended for at least four to six weeks. In addition, you should avoid lifting objects over 15 pounds for three months after any of these operations.

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