First Time User? Enroll now.
Find Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, testing and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine when pressure on the abdominal muscles increases. This can occur when a person laughs, coughs, sneezes, lifts a heavy object, or jogs.
Increased pressure on the top of the bladder created by one of these actions forces urine past the valve that normally keeps urine in the bladder. This results in leakage. Causes of stress incontinence include changes in the nerves and muscles that control the release of urine.
Stress incontinence is the most common form of urinary incontinence in women. Multiple childbirths, aging, or being overweight may cause changes in the pelvic muscles and supportive structures that lead to stress incontinence. It may also occur in men, especially those who have had prostate surgery.
Stress incontinence often responds well to home treatment. Kegel exercises are especially helpful for many people. These exercises are basically repeated squeezing of the muscles used to stop urinating. Medicines, pessaries, or surgery are sometimes required. (A pessary is a rubber device that is placed in the vagina to help support the uterus, which may be pressing on the bladder.)
Current as of: February 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Avery L. Seifert MD - Urology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.