Urinary stress incontinence: still taboo and yet very common

Urinary stress incontinence accounts for over half of all cases of urinary incontinence. It is the most common type of urinary incontinence among women under 55 and affects almost one out of five women during their lifetime. In spite of its prevalence, urinary stress incontinence is still a sensitive topic, and plenty of women are reluctant to talk about it. Commonly occurring after childbirth and during menopause, urinary stress incontinence is defined as the accidental leakage of urine following physical effort, such as lifting something heavy, sneezing, coughing and even laughing. The leakage happens suddenly when physical effort puts pressure on the abdomen.

Urinary stress incontinence even after Kegel exercises?

You’ve done your Kegel exercises as recommended, and around six weeks after your baby is born you think everything is back to normal, but a simple sneeze sends you back to square one. Why? Because other muscles, like the abdominals and buttocks muscles, also tend to contract, which impedes the effectiveness of Kegel exercises in strengthening pelvic muscles. During pregnancy, after childbirth or during menopause, leakage is mainly caused by a weakening of the muscles of the pelvic floor and urinary sphincter. Normally, these muscles keep the bladder closed and prevent the leakage of urine. If these muscles are weakened, they cannot contract enough to prevent leakages when pressure is placed on the abdomen.


Other treatment options for urinary stress incontinence

Kegel exercises aren’t the only way to treat urinary stress incontinence. Vaginal cones are another approach that doesn’t involve medication and is often recommended by healthcare professionals. The concept of vaginal cones is simple. It involves a set of small cones that are identical in shape and size, but with varying weights. You insert a cone in the vagina, starting with the lightest one you can comfortably hold, and replace it with increasingly heavy cones as the pelvic floor muscles grow stronger. Simple, right? It’s the feeling of the cone slipping that immediately triggers an involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles around it. If you can keep the cone in the vagina for 15 minutes with only a slight voluntary contraction, you have achieved the goal and can move on to the next cone. The exercise is done twice a day. The stronger your pelvic floor muscles get, the less chance of leakage. To laugh, sneeze and cough with peace of mind, it’s important to talk about it and have access to the right approach.