Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a common type of incontinence, affecting primarily women. It is characterized by the accidental loss of urine upon sneezing, coughing or other physical stress. Stress incontinence affects 13 million people in the U.S. and 30% of women within five years of their first vaginal delivery.
Several incontinence treatment options exist. There are devices people can purchase to stop the flow of urine outward, one such being a urinary occlusion device specifically marketed to very active women to block the urethra during intense physical activity. Some doctors prescribe an SNRI (serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant which is believed to help control the contractions of the urethral sphincter neurologically. Of four trials into the effects of the SNRI duloxetine on incontinence, median incontinence episode frequency decreased 51.5%.
Urinary incontinence may be caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. The muscles of the pelvic floor stretch between the bones of the pelvis and act as a harness for the organs within the abdomen. When these muscles are weak, they fail to properly control the retention of urine.
A Cochrane review of 18 trials into pelvic floor muscle exercise, viewable at summaries.cochrane.org, found moderate evidence that such exercise is effective for the treatment of all types of urinary incontinence. High-quality evidence for effectiveness was found in the measure of “patient perceived cure” among women with SUI. Women with SUI performing pelvic floor exercises were 17 times more likely to report cure or improvement than controls.
For more on stress urinary incontinence and its various treatment methods, see www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.