What is it?
Urinary incontinence is the unintentional loss of urine. Stress incontinence happens when physical movement or activity such as coughing, sneezing, running or heavy lifting puts pressure (stress) on your bladder. Stress incontinence is not related to psychological stress.
What are the symptoms?
Stress incontinence is when you leak urine when your bladder is put under extra sudden pressure, for example when you cough. It is not related to feeling stressed.
Other activities that may cause urine to leak include:
- heavy lifting
The amount of urine passed is usually small, but stress incontinence can sometimes cause you to pass larger amounts, particularly if your bladder is very full.
- Shed extra weight. If youre overweight your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher losing excess pounds can help reduce the overall pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor muscles. Moderate weight loss may markedly improve stress incontinence. Talk to your doctor for guidance on weight loss.
- Add fiber to your diet. If chronic constipation contributes to your urinary incontinence, keeping bowel movements soft and regular reduces the strain placed on your pelvic floor muscles. Try eating high-fiber foods whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables to relieve and prevent constipation.
- Avoid foods and beverages that can irritate your bladder. If drinking coffee or tea (regular or decaf) seems to make you urinate and leak more frequently, try eliminating that drink, especially on days you really dont want to be bothered by leakage.
- Dont smoke. Smoking can lead to a severe chronic cough, which can aggravate the symptoms of stress incontinence. Smoking is also a factor in many cases of bladder cancer.
Things to watch out for
GP should be contacted if you have any type of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a common problem and you shouldnt feel embarrassed talking to your GP about your symptoms.