Stress urinary incontinence is a very common, chronic (long-term) bladder problem which mainly affects women but can also affect men. Stress urinary incontinence can occur at any age although the risk increases as you get older.
One in three women over 40 has stress urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence in women is often the result of weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles. These muscles control the flow of urine and can weaken with age or be damaged by pregnancy or childbirth.
Stress urinary incontinence in men may be the result of prostate cancer treatment or damage to the pelvic nerve.
Stress urinary incontinence can usually be successfully managed by lifestyle changes, pelvic floor muscle exercises, bladder training or surgery.
The main stress urinary incontinence symptom is accidentally leaking urine when you:
Your GP will ask you about your stress urinary incontinence symptoms. If possible, for a week, write down episodes of urine leakage, your fluid intake and how often you urinate.
Your GP may test for urinary tract infections (UTI). They may also examine your pelvic area and, in men, your prostate gland.
To help with diagnosis your GP may refer you for:
For further assessment, your GP may refer you to a urologist, a consultant specialising in the urinary system or to a continence clinic or specialist continence nurse.
Stress urinary incontinence causes include:
To treat stress urinary incontinence, your GP or consultant may suggest:
If there’s no improvement in your urinary incontinence symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery may be required to: