Not all leaks are the same. Sometimes they are small, sometimes large. Sometimes they come without warning and sometimes they just come. If you suffer from any type of incontinence at all then you know just how awful these leaks can be. There are, though, very real differences between Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Urge Incontinence. Both cause leaks, but they are triggered by different factors.
Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is described as the sudden involuntary loss of urine caused by pressure or “stress”, which can be as minimal as a sneeze or cough. SUI can be caused by any number of factors including the most common, which is childbirth for women (with age, obesity, smoking and other illnesses contributing to the commonality, as well as long-term high impact activities). This is due to the weakening or loss of muscle, nerves, and surrounding tissue in the pelvic floor.
Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles and other tissues that support the bladder (pelvic floor muscles) and the muscles that regulate the release of urine (urinary sphincter) weaken. The bladder expands as it fills with urine. Normally, valve-like muscles in the urethra — the short tube that carries urine out of your body — stay closed as the bladder expands, preventing urine leakage until you reach a bathroom. But when those muscles weaken, anything that exerts a force on the abdominal and pelvic muscles — sneezing, bending over, lifting, laughing hard, for instance — can put pressure on your bladder and cause urine leakage.
Urge Incontinence IS NOT Stress Related
Urge incontinence is also referred to as overactive bladder. It can be caused by any number of things, but it comes with a sudden urge to urinate. There could be various reasons one may develop urge incontinence, and it often becomes difficult for a healthcare provider to pinpoint an exact cause. However, some potential causes could include:
- a bladder infection
- an obstruction of the opening of the bladder
- bladder cancer
- diseases of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis
- an injury to the nervous system, such as trauma to the spinal cord or a stroke
The biggest difference between SUI and Overactive Bladder is related to the anatomy. Where SUI is related to the urethra, because it cannot hold back a sudden increase in pressure, OAB is related to the bladder which begins to squeeze involuntarily. All of the experts agree that the best course of action if a person has any type of Urinary Incontinence, is to see a doctor for diagnosis and advice on cures or management of the symptoms.
The first step in determining the best solution for your leaks is to consult your doctor to understand what kind of incontinence you’re experiencing and if it’s linked to a deeper cause. Once that is determined, you and your doctor can discuss solutions that would work best for you and your lifestyle.
Pads and Liners – Oftentimes, women turn to incontinence pads or liners to help cover up their leaks. Although they help hide leaks in the moment, pads can be bulky and uncomfortable and can only be worn for a short amount of time before the risk of odor or infection.
Kegels – These are exercises meant to help restrengthen the pelvic floor muscles. There is a plethora of literature, guides, videos, and tools to help women correctly and effectively work out their pelvic floor. However, it takes time and patience to see an impact on leaks and SUI.
Surgery – There are surgical options to support the urethra and urinary tract internally. Pelvic sling surgery is an option, but has faced backlash and orders from the FDA due to post-procedure complications.
Medication – For women that are suffering from UI, it may be linked to another medical complication such as a UTI or inflammation, in which case, solving that problem with medication would ideally resolve the leaks. With SUI, women may use a topical ointment with estrogen to help support weakened tissue that lines and supports the urethra.
Another solution for women that are experiencing SUI is the new bladder support device designed specifically for women called Revive. Revive is a reusable silicone device that is comfortably inserted by the user at home to reduce or completely stop leaks for up to 12 hoursa day. Available at retailers nationwide over-the-counter, women everywhere can improve their quality of life without having to see their doctor for a prescription or insertion. Easy, safe, comfortable, and effective, Revive comes with a month’s supply of strings and travel case for storage and reuse.