Stress incontinence is the inability to control the release of
urine when pressure on the abdominal muscles increases. This can occur when a
person laughs, coughs, sneezes, lifts a heavy object, or jogs.
Increased pressure on the top of the bladder created by one of
these actions forces urine past the valve that normally keeps urine in the
bladder. This results in leakage. Causes of stress incontinence include changes
in the nerves and muscles that control the release of urine.
Stress incontinence is the most common form of urinary incontinence
in women. Multiple childbirths, aging, or being overweight may cause changes in
the pelvic muscles and supportive structures that lead to stress incontinence.
It may also occur in men, especially those who have had prostate surgery.
Stress incontinence often responds well to home treatment. Kegel
exercises are especially helpful for many people. These exercises are basically
repeated squeezing of the muscles used to stop urinating. Medicines,
pessaries, or surgery are sometimes required. (A pessary is a rubber device
that is placed in the vagina to help support the uterus, which may be pressing
on the bladder.)