What is Stress Incontinence?
Stress urinary incontinence, or stress incontinence, is the name for urine leaks with movement. If you leak when you jump (runners, dancers, athletes of all kinds), cough, sneeze, or laugh, even itty bitty leaks of urine, you are suffering from the totally treatable condition known as stress urinary incontinence. People often think it is a symptom of aging, or that it will happen to every woman after she has a baby, but this is totally false. Stress urinary incontinence is common in older adults and following pregnancy, but it does not occur in all older women or after every pregnancy. Leaking urine, even a tiny amount, is not normal.
The worst part about ignoring incontinence is the cost. Stress incontinence can be treated effectively, and often for less than what you pay for pads or incontinence products.
The Costs of Stress Incontinence
Stress Incontinence costs you a ton in terms of your quality of life. It prevents you from doing the activities you love because you are afraid of an accident. It can be really socially isolating to hear "All women have that," but not know that 1) this isn't true, and 2) not realize there is a cure.
When it comes to monetary costs, the cost of doing nothing can be higher than the cost of doing something. Pads and incontinence products cost more money to manage stress incontinence than the least intrusive treatment. So what can you do to treat your stress incontinence?
How is Stress Incontinence Cured?
No matter the reason for your stress incontinence, you want to know if stress incontinence can be cured. You want to know “What can I do for stress incontinence?” A cure is really meant to eliminate the symptoms of a condition. A cure for your stress incontinence would mean you no longer have to worry about bladder leaks. There are really 4 options for the treatment of urine leaks.
- Do Nothing. You can manage the symptoms of stress incontinence by wearing adult incontinence products and trying to empty your bladder as frequently as possible. This is not a cure, but at best maintenance of your condition. It is also not a cheap option with the average estimated cost of incontinence products for stress incontinence reaching up to $1825 per year. This is an ongoing cost because you are not treating the underlying cause of your pelvic floor dysfunction. Consider one of the following for long term improvement.
- The type of surgery may vary slightly, but one of the most common surgical interventions for stress incontinence or bladder leaks is a bladder sling. There is a good success rate with surgery (approximately 20% of patients will need follow-up surgery), but it is costly. The national average for bladder sling surgery is $15,203.
- There are several medications available for the treatment of stress incontinence, but medication comes with its own risks and side effects. Additionally, unlike surgery, medication will likely have to be taken indefinitely. It can also be a costly consideration at nearly $4800 per year for Myrbetriq here in Oklahoma City.
- Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy (or Women’s Health Physical Therapy). Physical Therapy for stress incontinence is recognized as a safe, conservative approach to care. There are no recognized adverse effects of physical therapy and it is a cost-effective solution (even at our cash pay rates, 10 sessions of physical therapy at FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers of Oklahoma City would only cost a patient $845 out of pocket). And for many pelvic floor physical patients with stress incontinence, a full plan of care will be completed in fewer than 10 sessions. Most patients walk away better, empowered, and ready to love their lives. The best part is that you leave with a tool to help yourself reach your optimal level of functioning.
What Causes Stress Incontinence?
Stress incontinence is a symptom of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Overall, pelvic floor dysfunction occurs due to less healthy muscle tissue. Healthy pelvic floor muscles, like any healthy muscle, should be strong and flexible. If your pelvic floor muscles lack strength, flexibility, or both you are at risk for stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is most often thought to be due to weak pelvic floor muscles, which cannot stay contracted when pressure is applied to the bladder and urethra. Your urethra is like a tube or straw that urine passes through, healthy pelvic floor muscles can pinch the tube to prevent urine from passing, but weak pelvic floor muscles cannot get tight enough around the urethra to maintain tension that prevents the leaking of urine. While weak pelvic floor muscles are most often characterized by weak pelvic floor muscles, but there are times when your pelvic floor can become over tightened. This increased muscle tension can also force urine through the urethra because it is over tightened; similar to pushing a tube of toothpaste up from the bottom, if your pelvic floor muscles are over tightened they will force urine to flow from the bladder through the urethra and out of the sphincter. Unfortunately, in some cases of stress incontinence both pelvic floor muscle weakness and pelvic floor muscle over contraction can co-occur and lead to stress incontinence, which may lead to a longer course of treatment.
Your Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist is an expert in all things muscles and joints, particularly with regard to the pelvic floor. It is for this reason that she is exactly who you need to see to start your journey to health and to Love Your Life! Speaking with a healthcare provider like your physical therapist (did you know you can see your Physical Therapist without speaking to your doctor first) or physician can help you identify which solution is best for your current needs.
-FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers of Oklahoma City
∞Cost of Surgery: https://www.mdsave.com/procedures/bladder-vagina-repair/d78bf9cb
^Estimated Cost of Medication: https://www.singlecare.com/prescription/myrbetriq
+Cost of Adult Incontinence Products https://www.suna.org/download/members/unjarticles/2009/09jun/188.pdf
*FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers of Oklahoma City offers cash-pay evaluations for $125 and follow-up visits for $80.