What is stress urinary incontinence (SUI)?

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is when urine leaks out when there is 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 stress urinary incontinence 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. Stress urinary incontinence is a very common bladder problem for women. (urologyhealth.org)

Another common bladder problem is called Overactive Bladder (OAB), or Urgency Urinary Incontinence (UUI). People with overactive bladder have an urgent, “gotta go” feeling that they can’t control. Some people with overactive bladder leak urine when they feel that urge. Stress urinary incontinence and overactive bladder are caused by different parts of the urinary system. Stress urinary incontinence is a failure of the urethra while overactive bladder is a bladder problem. With SUI, the urethra cannot stay closed with the sudden increase in pressure thus allowing urine to leak out, typically in smaller amounts. With overactive bladder, the bladder itself spasms and squeezes uncontrollably causing a strong urge to urinate. With overactive bladder or urgency urinary incontinence, the amount of urine loss is typically larger in amount and in some instances the entire bladder may be emptied.  (urologyhealth.org)

Many people with stress urinary incontinence also have overactive bladder. When both types of urinary incontinence are happening, it is called “Mixed Incontinence.” (urologyhealth.org)

About 1 in 3 women aged 30-60 experience stress urinary incontinence. Women may experience SUI during pregnancy and after they have had children. About half of women (1 out of 2) aged 65 and above find that they sometimes leak urine. Stress urinary incontinence is not related to psychological stress; it refers to the physical stress placed on the bladder and urethra by activity. (urologyhealth.org)