Stress incontinence

Skip Navigation

Stress incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine when pressure on the abdominal muscles increases. This can occur when a person laughs, coughs, sneezes, lifts a heavy object, or jogs.

Increased pressure on the top of the bladder created by one of these actions forces urine past the valve that normally keeps urine in the bladder. This results in leakage. Causes of stress incontinence include changes in the nerves and muscles that control the release of urine.

Stress incontinence is the most common form of urinary incontinence in women. Multiple childbirths, aging, or being overweight may cause changes in the pelvic muscles and supportive structures that lead to stress incontinence. It may also occur in men, especially those who have had prostate surgery.

Stress incontinence often responds well to home treatment. Kegel exercises are especially helpful for many people. These exercises involve squeezing the muscles you would use if you were trying not to pass gas or if you were stopping the flow of urine. Medicines, pessaries or surgery are sometimes required. (A pessary is a rubber device that is placed in the vagina to help support the uterus, which may be pressing on the bladder.)




The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.