Stress Urinary Incontinence

Stress urinary incontinence is a particular type of incontinence (involuntary loss of urine). Urinary incontinence involves only the urinary system, i.e., the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder and the urethra. It affects both women and men, but it's much more common among women. It's estimated that approximately 25 million adult Americans are dealing with incontinence, whether as a chronic condition or as a transient (temporary) matter.

There are several types of incontinence, including fecal incontinence and mixed fecal and urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) occurs when the pelvic floor muscles become weakened, or when the urethral sphincter (opening) is no longer able to do its job. In women, stress urinary incontinence may happen after:

  • childbirth or multiple births
  • menopause
  • after receiving transvaginal surgical mesh in a surgery to correct pelvic organ prolapse

In men, stress urinary incontinence can occur after prostate cancer surgery.


When a person has stress urinary incontinence, urine leaks during moments of physical or emotional stress, such as when the person:

  • exercises
  • moves in a way that puts pressure on the bladder
  • coughs
  • sneezes
  • laughs

Understandably, stress urinary incontinence is a troubling and embarrassing condition. However, about 80 percent of stress urinary incontinence cases can be improved or cured.


Stress urinary incontinence is a symptom, not a disease itself. Complications can arise from a medical condition or disease that an individual has in addition to the stress urinary incontinence, but there are also a few complications that can develop with stress urinary incontinence alone:

  • skin irritation; rash—without a moisture barrier such as incontinence pads, the skin that is in contact with urine can become irritated, breaking out into a rash
  • "mixed" urinary incontinence—a mix of stress urinary incontinence and "urge" incontinence, also known as overactive bladder
  • emotional distress—the embarrassment and disruption of work, social events, sex, etc. that incontinence can cause is a serious concern

Treatment Options

There are many treatment options for stress urinary incontinence, including:

  • bladder retraining
  • pelvic muscle rehabilitation
  • medication
  • surgery, including sling procedures and several other surgical procedures

If you were treated surgically for stress urinary incontinence and have suffered complications, you may be eligible for financial compensation. For more information, contact our transvaginal mesh attorneys for a free review of your case.

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