You may love to laugh. But “leaking” when you laugh is hardly amusing. If sneezing, coughing, bending or exercising are causing you unexpected and sometimes embarrassing wetness or odor, it’s likely a sign of stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Sure, wearing a pad is an option, or just refraining from strenuous activity may help, but you do have other options for a more permanent solution, according to Luis Espaillat, MD, chief of urogynecology at Grand View Health.
“One in three women ages 45 and older experience some form of SUI. It’s most often caused from changes that occur during pregnancy and childbirth that weaken the support to the urethra,” Espaillat explains. Chronic coughing, constipation, obesity, aging, smoking or extreme weightlifting also may cause SUI, and genetics may play a role.
These three lifestyle changes may provide some relief:
- Watch your diet – Coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, some citrus fruits, spicy foods and chocolate can all contribute to SUI.
- Shed a few pounds – Carrying extra weight can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, which increases your risk for developing SUI.
- Quit smoking – Smoking is known to damage your bladder and increase your SUI risk.
Depending on the severity of your SUI, a specially designed regimen of physical therapy or a minimally invasive procedure may be the best options for helping you minimize or eliminate your symptoms.
As a urogynecologist, Dr. Espaillat is board-certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and can help you decide which treatment might be best for you. He performs a wide variety of minimally invasive procedures to treat SUI. Recovery is pretty quick, and there is minimal pain. “It’s great to be able to offer a solution that really works,” he says.