Talking about bathroom habits and bathroom accidents is embarrassing and personal. No one wants to talk about if they had a little leak at the gym doing some squats, or admit that they had to run to the restroom and clean up after a sneeze! Some women merely brush these little accidents off as a sign of aging or an after-effect of childbirth, cover it up, clean it up, and act like it never happened. But you could be experiencing Stress Urinary Incontinence or SUI, a common urinary problem that plenty of women face. But how do you know if you have SUI and not something else?
What is SUI?
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is the weakening of the pelvic floor or sphincter muscles that regulate and control the flow of urine. This means that any sort of pressure or “stress” placed on the bladder can cause some urine to leak out, resulting in your mid-squat accident. You may be experiencing SUI if you leak when you:
There could be a number of factors that contribute to developing stress incontinence. Obesity and weight gain can be a contributing factor, putting extra weight on the bladder and urinary tract that isn’t normally there. Surgery or vaginal birth can affect the pelvic floor muscles and nerves as well as shift the urethra and surrounding tissue. Aging and years of high impact activities are also common factors of SUI. Keep in mind there could be multiple causes for the weakening of the muscles. While having some involuntary leaks is embarrassing, you’re not alone, approximately 15 million women in the US are affected by SUI.
SUI Vs Urge Incontinence
You may think that all leaks are the same, but there are different types of urinary incontinence that one may experience. While stress incontinence causes a sudden leak while performing an activity that puts pressure on weakened pelvic floor muscles, urge incontinence occurs because the sphincter that controls the flow of urine contracts. This may cause you to experience the very sudden urge to go to the bathroom and may cause you to leak or experience bed wetting. Urge incontinence can be caused by bladder nerve damage, spinal cord damage, or the bladder itself being irritated. Like SUI, however, the risk factors are generally the same. Older people, overweight or obese people, and people that have recently been through pelvic surgeries are more at risk for experiencing urge incontinence.
SUI Vs OAB
Overactive Bladder or OAB is similar to urge incontinence with some slight differences. OAB is a condition in which the bladder cannot function normally and hold urine, while urinary incontinence is a symptom in which there is involuntary leakage of urine. With an Overactive Bladder, the sphincter muscle contracts to release urine no matter how full the bladder is, causing the need to pee. Again, a lot of the same risk factors and medical histories can be contributors - age, weight, surgeries, and nerve damage can cause OAB. Older adults with cognitive problems like dementia or Alzheimers are at a higher risk for developing OAB as well.
Talking to Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing an occasional leak, and it's affecting your day-to-day life, impacting your mental well-being, or occurring more often than you’re comfortable with, it’s time to talk to your doctor. While bringing up your embarrassing gym moment can be mortifying, your doctor is there to help you and your body with its problems. Being honest and descriptive with your healthcare provider can help them correctly identify what your body is going through, and hopefully, find a solution. They can help you find what works best for you and provide information and resources on what kind of leaks you’re experiencing.
One solution that women with SUI can turn to is Revive, a bladder support device clinically found to help reduce leaks. Available over-the-counter without a prescription, Revive is a one-size-fits-most device that can be inserted safely without a healthcare provider for women to use discreetly at home. It can be worn comfortably for 12 hours a day to help support your bladder and stop leaks before they happen. 90% of women felt it was a good fit upon first use in clinical trials and 75% felt dry while using Revive. Comfortable, safe, and reusable Revive can be found at retailers nationwide.