Central Maine Medical Center
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Women's Health - For everyday in a woman's life...

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SUI?

Incontinence is a condition of involuntary urinary leakage. Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) occurs if there is pressure on the bladder because of physical movement, such as coughing, laughing or sneezing.

SUI is a common medical condition that an estimated one of three women will experience in their lifetime. It is not the same condition as Overactive Bladder, also known as Urge Incontinence. With OAB, there is a sudden urge to urinate without any necessary movement.

What are the Symptoms of SUI?

Leaking urine without intending to is the major symptom of SUI. You may leak just a few drops, or more. There are varying degrees of SUI. In mild cases, leakage may occur when you are exercising or engaged in rigorous activities such as lifting an object. Also, it may occur after coughing, sneezing or laughing. Women with more severe SUI may experience leakage with less intense physical movements – motions such as standing or walking.

Who is Likely to Experience SUI?

Women of any age may experience this condition, but it is more common among older women.

Some risk factors:

  • Caucasian and Hispanic women have higher risks
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Chronic cough
  • Pregnancy and childbirth, which may affect the pelvic floor muscles, resulting in bladder leakage
  • Nerve injuries to the lower back
  • Pelvic surgery
Anything that weakens the pelvic floor muscles can lead to SUI.

How Does SUI Impact My Life?

Women with SUI may feel self-conscious and restrict activities. This may include social activities and/or physical activities. It may also include avoiding sex. If you realize you are avoiding activities that have been an important part of your life because of SUI, it may be time to talk to your healthcare provider.

*Helpful tip: Keep a diary noting when you experience SUI; bring your diary to your doctor’s visit. This may help determine how to manage the condition.

How is SUI Treated?

Your doctor may be able to help you or he or she may refer you to a urologist.

Treatment options will vary. For example, if you are overweight, it may be advised that you lose weight. Smokers would be advised to cease smoking.

Other treatment options include:

  • Pelvic floor muscle training. Your healthcare provider can show you daily exercises to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which can help reduce SUI.
  • Urinary control devices are another possibility. They help reduce pressure inside the pelvis. Your healthcare provider will explain the different options.
  • Some women may opt to wear sanitary or incontinence pads. These are a simple solution that may not bother some women.

Is Surgery an Option?

Surgery is an option. It is a procedure that can be done as a same day procedure! Your doctor can discuss surgical procedures with you.

Are there Medications for SUI?

No. At this time, there are no medications approved for use for SUI. That is because the leakage is happening from the weakness in your pelvic structure.

For more information about SUI or other bladder issues, contact The Bladder Control Center at CMMC at 207-795-2121 or 1-877-836-3900.

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