About Bladder Leaks and Incontinence

What is stress urinary incontinence (SUI)?

If you have stress incontinence, you may leak urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, exercise, or lift things — anything that puts sudden pressure on the bladder, causing the sphincter muscles in the urethra to open and release urine. The amount can be a few drops to tablespoons or more.

What causes stress urinary incontinence (SUI)?

Stress urinary incontinence often occurs because pelvic floor muscles and tissues have been weakened, preventing the urethra from closing tightly enough to hold urine in the bladder.

Muscles can weaken due to pregnancy and childbirth, aging and genetic factors, high-impact physical activities over many years, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and medical conditions that cause chronic coughing or sneezing. 

While incontinence is very common, it’s not a “normal” part of aging, pregnancy or childbirth. You don’t have to live with it. There are many treatment options available.


Stress urinary incontinence occurs when the muscles and other tissues that support the bladder weaken, causing bladder leaks.  

What is the pelvic floor, and why do I need strong pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor is a bowl-like network of muscles and tissue that run from your pubic bone to the tail bone, sitting under the bladder, bowel and uterus and supporting them. These muscles help with bladder control, continence and sexual function.  If they become weak, lose their tone, or if you lack control of these muscles, you may experience bladder leakage. 

Just like other muscles, pelvic floor muscles get stronger and more toned with exercise, which can improve bladder control.

What kind of healthcare professionals treat SUI?

Healthcare professionals who treat SUI include  OB/GYNs, urologists, nurse practitioners and pelvic floor physical therapists (specially trained experts in evaluating and treating issues related to pelvic floor muscles).