Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a common condition that affects millions of people, particularly women. SUI is a type of urinary incontinence that occurs when pressure is placed on the bladder, causing urine to leak out. This pressure can come from coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects. While SUI can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, the good news is that it is often preventable and treatable.


What is SUI?

SUI is a type of urinary incontinence that is characterized by the involuntary leakage of urine during physical activities that put pressure on the bladder. This can happen when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or lift heavy objects. SUI is caused by weak pelvic floor muscles and a weakened urethral sphincter, which is the muscle that controls the flow of urine out of the bladder.


There are two types of SUI: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic SUI is caused by weakness in the pelvic floor muscles, while extrinsic SUI is caused by an external force, such as pressure on the bladder from coughing or sneezing.


Causes of SUI

SUI is most commonly caused by pregnancy and childbirth. The weight of the growing baby can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and stretch the urethral sphincter, making it more difficult to control urine flow. Other factors that can contribute to SUI include menopause, obesity, and chronic coughing.


Symptoms of SUI

The most common symptom of SUI is involuntary leakage of urine during physical activities that put pressure on the bladder. Other symptoms can include a frequent need to urinate, a strong urge to urinate, and difficulty emptying the bladder completely.


The severity of SUI can vary depending on the individual. Some people may only experience a small amount of leakage, while others may experience a significant amount of leakage that can significantly impact their daily lives.


Diagnosis of SUI

Diagnosis of SUI usually involves a medical history and physical examination. Your doctor may also perform a urinalysis to rule out any other underlying medical conditions. Urodynamic testing may also be used to assess how well your bladder and urethra are functioning. Other diagnostic tests may include cystoscopy or imaging studies.


Treatment of SUI

Treatment of SUI depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Conservative measures such as pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), bladder training, and lifestyle changes may be recommended initially. Medications, such as alpha-adrenergic agonists, can also help to strengthen the urethral sphincter and reduce leakage.


Surgery may be recommended for more severe cases of SUI, particularly if conservative measures and medications have not been effective. Surgical options may include sling procedures or bladder neck suspension.


Prevention of SUI

While not all cases of SUI can be prevented, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing the condition. Kegel exercises, which involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, can help to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and urethra. Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce the risk of developing SUI, as excess weight can put extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.


Other preventive measures may include avoiding constipation, treating chronic coughing or respiratory conditions, and avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the pelvic floor muscles, such as heavy lifting.


Myths and misconceptions about SUI

There are several myths and misconceptions about SUI that can prevent people from seeking help or treatment. One common myth is that SUI is a normal part of aging and that there is nothing that can be done about it. However, while SUI may be more common in older adults, it is not an inevitable part of the aging process and can often be prevented or treated.


Another myth is that SUI only affects women who have had children. While pregnancy and childbirth are common causes of SUI, the condition can also affect men and women who have not had children.



SUI is a common condition that can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but it is often preventable and treatable. By maintaining a healthy weight, practicing pelvic floor exercises, and seeking medical help when necessary, individuals can reduce their risk of developing SUI or improve their symptoms if they are already experiencing the condition.


Remember that seeking medical help is important for diagnosing and treating SUI. If you are experiencing symptoms of SUI, speak with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.


Desert Sky Urology

Restoring comfort and confidence is our utmost priority. If you’re looking for stress urinary incontinence treatment contact Desert Sky Urology today. We invite you to explore our exceptional services for stress urinary incontinence in Phoenix, Chandler, and Gilbert, AZ.