What is Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)?

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is when urine leaks out with sudden pressure on the bladder and urethra, causing the sphincter muscles to open briefly. With mild SUI, pressure may be from sudden forceful activities, like exercise, sneezing, laughing or coughing.

If your SUI is more severe, you may also leak with less forceful activities like standing up, walking or bending over. Urinary “accidents” like this can range from a few drops of urine to enough to soak through your clothes.

SUI is a very common bladder problem for women. It happens less often in men.

Another common bladder problem is called Overactive Bladder (OAB), or Urgency Urinary Incontinence (UUI). People with OAB have an urgent, “gotta go” feeling that they can’t control. Some people with OAB leak urine when they feel that urge.

The difference between SUI and OAB is anatomical. SUI is a urethral problem while OAB is a bladder problem. With SUI, the urethra cannot stop the sudden increase in pressure. With OAB, the bladder spasms and squeezes uncontrollably

How Can SUI Affect my Life?

Many people find that SUI gets in the way of daily and social activities. It can affect family and sexual relationships. Some people even begin to feel isolated and hopeless because of it.

You may be embarrassed about this problem. You may not want to talk about it with a loved one or even a doctor. Please know that your primary care practitioner or a specialist can help.

Ask yourself whether leaking urine or the fear of leaking urine has:

  • Stopped you from doing things outside of your home?

  • Caused you to be afraid to be too far from a bathroom or a change of clothes?

  • Stopped you from exercising or playing sports?

  • Changed the way you live because you’re afraid of leaks?

  • Made you uncomfortable with yourself and your body?

  • Changed your relationships with friends or family?

If you answer yes to some of these questions, you should know that things can change for the better. There are many ways to manage and treat SUI.