Stress incontinence or exercise incontinence

Stress incontinence – or exercise incontinence - is the most common form of incontinence, affecting about 1 out of 5 women over the age of 40. Stress incontinence generally occurs with physical exertion such as running, jumping and coughing, which is why stress incontinence is also called exercise incontinence.

What is stress incontinence?

Stress incontinence has nothing to do with psychological stress, but more to do with excessive pressure on the bladder and abdomen, and is generally caused by weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles. Because the weakened pelvic floor muscles are not able to absorb the extra pressure on the bladder that occurs during exercise or other physical activity, leakage occurs.

Some people with stress incontinence will experience occasional leaks of just a few drops, while others start to avoid certain activities because they are unable to stop the leak.

Stress incontinence is most common in women, especially during and after pregnancy or menopause. Smoking, obesity and some forms of surgery may also lead to an increased risk of stress incontinence.

The causes of stress incontinence are different for men and women, but the consequences can be annoying for anyone affected.

Stress incontinence in pregnancy

Weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles in women are often caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy. While those hormonal changes are necessary for the child to develop and to prepare the mother's body for delivery, they also cause unpleasant pregnancy ailments such as nausea, mood swings and involuntary urination.

Weakened pelvic floor muscles can persist for several months after pregnancy. In addition to hormonal changes during pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles can also be damaged during childbirth.

Read more about incontinence and pregnancy


Stress incontinence and menopause

The female body goes through a lot of changes during menopause. Due to the decrease of estrogen the muscle strength in the pelvic floor decreases, which can result in involuntary urination under pressure for many women as they go through menopause. Menstruation becomes increasingly irregular and eventually disappears. The ovaries stop production of the female hormone estrogen, which can cause various unpleasant symptoms, including stress incontinence.

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Stress incontinence in men

Stress incontinence is not just for pregnant women or women going through menopause. It is estimated that about 1 in 20 men live with stress incontinence. In men, stress incontinence can be caused by (prostate) surgery, being overweight, chronic coughing, etc. Also, aging of the pelvic floor muscles can cause stress incontinence.

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Solutions for stress incontinence

If stress incontinence is known to be caused by pregnancy, the symptoms will generally disappear with time.
For most people, including those with pregnancy incontinence, pelvic floor exercises can help accelerate the recovery process and relieve symptoms. In addition to pelvic floor exercises, a doctor or health care professional can prescribe different medications or suggest specific treatment methods to reduce or relieve stress incontinence.

Incontinence products for stress incontinence

Reliable incontinence products will protect against unintentional urine leaks and help avoid unpleasant odors. Incontinence products exist for various forms and degrees of incontinence, just as there are products designed to fit male and female anatomy, which protect against urine while ensuring that the skin can breathe. This minimizes the risk of incontinence associated skin problems (IAD).

Read more about Choosing the right incontinence product

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