stress urinary

Taking the Stress out of Stress Urinary Incontinence

Stress Urinary Incontinence: It’s not something we need to speak about in hushed tones like a dirty secret, but for many, that’s how it feels. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is the term for when you involuntarily leak urine after pressure is suddenly placed on the bladder, such as when you cough or sneeze, and 25 to 35 per cent of women will experience SUI at some point in their lives. “Even though it’s so common, no one talks about it—it’s still a taboo subject,”  explains Dr. Dean S. Elterman, MD, MSc, FRCSC, a urologic surgeon at Toronto Western Hospital.  “Because of that, a lot of women are suffering in silence. Many women won’t talk about it with their friends, their partners, or even their family doctors.” By opening up the conversation about SUI, we hope to give women the confidence to seek their best treatment option.

So What’s Actually Happening?

SUI happens when the urethra isn’t supported or held firmly in place. Once there’s sudden pressure on the bladder, the urine flows freely because the urethra isn’t anchored to anything to support it and stop the flow. Some risk factors for SUI include: multiple pregnancies and aging, when your tissues naturally start to loosen. During menopause, hormone levels decline, and they’re responsible for strengthening tissues in the vagina. “Excess weight is a risk factor, as is smoking due to the chronic coughing,” explains Dr. Elterman.