What is Stress Urinary Incontinence?

You may or may not be familiar with the term Stress Urinary incontinence (SUI) but the chances are that if you yourself aren’t affected, you definitely know someone who is affected by the condition. SUI is described as the complaint of involuntary loss of urine on physical exertion, exercise or during activities such sneezing or coughing. It is commonly estimated that one in three women over the age of 30 will experience SUI at some point in their lives.

Common Risk Factors

While it isn’t purely a woman’s condition, many of the risk factors are gender related. Common risk factors include pregnancy, vaginal birth, age, constipation, smoking, excess body weight, hormonal changes, previous pelvic surgery and chronic coughing. High impact sports and occupational activities involving repetitive sudden increases in abdominal pressure may also increase the likelihood.

Recent Recognition

Although it is the condition that is mostly associated with pelvic health physiotherapy, it is actually only relatively recently recognised as a medical condition. For example, there is evidence that prolapse has been studied for thousands of years but incontinence has only been studied in the last century. So, 2023 marks the 100th birthday of SUI!

Overcoming Embarrassment

I suppose this relatively recent diagnosis can be somewhat put down to the fact that many women initially feel embarrassed by stress urinary incontinence and this can delay people from talking to their GP’s or Chartered Physiotherapist and seeking treatment. These feelings can get in the way of work and social activities and thereby reducing quality of life. It’s not unusual for a woman to say that there was no point in talking about their leaking as they had wrongly believed that there wasn’t anything that could be done to improve it! Studies have shown women generally wait an average of 5 years before highlighting it to their GP.

Seeking Treatment

There are many different treatments available for the management of SUI and good information is really important in helping women to make the right decisions for themselves. It can be really helpful to discuss your symptoms with your GP and agree a treatment plan. The International Continence Society recommends that women with uncomplicated SUI (i.e. no other significant history or symptoms) attend a pelvic health physiotherapist as part of their front-line treatment plan.

Physiotherapy Benefits

Physiotherapist are trained in the assessment of SUI and the rehabilitation of pelvic floor muscles. These muscles act as a support for the bladder and when you cough, they close the urethra to prevent the loss of urine.

Taking Action – Contact PMC Physio

If you are experiencing symptoms of SUI and are unsure of your next steps, consult your GP or give us a call here at PMC Physiotherapy to speak to a specialist Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. We can help you to identify, strengthen and optimise the function of these pelvic floor muscles, thereby freeing you up mentally and physically to carry on enjoying your life.


PMC Physiotherapy Clinic, Unit 36, Dunboyne Business Park, Dunboyne, Co Meath

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